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Real Madrid ease to El Clasico win over Barcelona

Goals from Benzema, Valverde and Rodyrgo take Madrid back to the top of the table.

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The win on Sunday takes Real to the top of the league. [Juan Medina/Reuters]

Real Madrid have comfortably defeated Barcelona 3-1 in the first Clasico of the season.

The win on Sunday also takes Real back to the top of the La Liga standings. They now lead Barcelona by three points.

Karim Benzema and Fede Valverde put Madrid up 2-0 in the first half, and Carlo Ancelotti’s men played the rest of the match on cruise control.

A late Ferran Torres goal raised hopes of an unlikely Barcelona comeback, but Madrid went down to the other end of the pitch and won a penalty in added time, which Rodyrgo scored.

The match started with both teams equal on points at the top of the table.

In the 12th minute, Real’s pressure paid off, and Benzema scored his first goal since August.

A perfectly weighted Toni Kroos through ball found Vinicius Jr, who breezed past Jules Kounde with ease and charged towards the goal.

His shot was blocked by goalkeeper Marc-André ter Stegen, but the rebound fell to Benzema, who cooly slotted into the bottom corner.

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Benzema has scored 12 El Clasico goals, which moves him to joint fifth. [Susana Vera/Reuters]

The French striker is widely expected to win the Ballon d’Or on Monday, and the goal will only brighten the gloss on his impending glory.

The goal was a wake-up call for Barcelona, and they began to grow into the game.

Robert Lewandowski got on the end of a dangerous cross from Raphinha on the right, and with the goal gaping open in front of him, he put his shot wide.

In the 35th minute, Valverde found himself in hectares of space on the edge of the Barca box, and after comfortably teeing up a shot, fired into ter Stegen’s bottom corner. Good finish but poor defending from Barca.

The Uruguayan has emerged as one of Madrid’s best players in recent months, and the goal was his fifth in all competitions this season. That’s already more than he managed in the previous two.

As the match was drawing to a close, Barcelona substitute Torres pulled a goal back in the 83rd minute after tapping in from close range from an Ansu Fati cross.

Hopes of a comeback were quickly extinguished as Eric Garcia fouled Rodyrgo in the box during injury time, and after a Video Assistant Referee check, the Brazilian converted the penalty he had won.

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Real Madrid now sit three points clear of Barcelona at the top of the table [Juan Medina/Reuters]

The result doesn’t represent the level of Madrid’s dominance. Despite the absences of goalkeeper Thibuat Courtois and centre back Antonio Rudiger, the Madrid defence hardly came under threat.

So far this season, Benzema, Valverde, Vinicius Jr, and Rodrygo have each scored five or more goals in all competitions.

A lot of new characters arrived at Barcelona this season, but the story in the El Clasico remains the same.

Xavi’s men entered the game with the best defence in the league, having conceded just one goal. But injuries have ravaged their backline and they’ve now conceded six goals in their last two games.

Source: Al Jazeera