|Barca overcame the shock of conceding a goal after only 23 seconds to defeat their bitter rivals at the Bernabeu [EPA]|
A superb diving header from Cesc Fabregas crowned a stunning 3-1 comeback win for Barcelona at Real Madrid on Saturday that lifted the champions above their bitter rivals to the top of Spain’s Primera Division.
Jose Mourinho’s Real drew first blood in the opening ‘Clasico’ of the campaign when Karim Benzema punished a mistake by Barca goalkeeper Victor Valdes to score after only 23 seconds at the Bernabeu.
A trademark weaving run from World Player of the Year Lionel Messi created Barca’s equaliser for Alexis Sanchez in the 30th minute before Xavi’s deflected strike on his 600th appearance for Barca made it 2-1 eight minutes into the second half.
Daniel Alves galloped down the right wing and sent over a deep cross for former Arsenal captain Fabregas to nod in Barca’s third in the 66th minute and Barca several times came close to adding to their tally in the closing stages.
Pep Guardiola’s eighth victory in 12 ‘Clasicos’ since he took the helm at the end of the 2007-08 season put Barca on 37 points from 16 matches, level with Real, who have a game in hand, but ahead on goal difference.
Real can restore their three-point lead with a win at Sevilla next weekend, as European champions Barca head to Japan for the Club World Cup.
Saturday’s defeat ended Real’s run of 10 straight league wins and prevented them from breaking the club record of 15 consecutive victories in all competitions.