On Sunday night the setting was perfect, atmosphere electric and Bernabeu full to the brim. There was not a single dull moment in the entire 90 minutes in the game between Spain’s world famous football rivals. The game had it all. 7 goals were scored, 3 of which from spot-kicks, Karima Benzema scored a double, Lionel Messi scored a crucial hat-trick and broke a few records, Cristiano Ronaldo had a goal to his name too, when he scored from a penalty for Real, then Ronaldo was shown a Yellow Card and finally Sergio Ramos was sent off, in what the referee thought was an avoidable obstruction. When the match ended, Barcelona had improved their standing in La Liga table with just one point behind joint toppers Atletico and Real.
The match started at fast pace and one saw Neymar having a go at the Real goal and Karim Benzma retaliating with a shot at Barca’s goal. But the tone of the match was set by Barcelona FC, who opened the scoring in the 6th minute. Moving up quickly, Messi sent a beautiful pass to Andres Iniesta, who wasted no time in executing a superb rising shot into the goal. But to their credit, Real Madrid were unaffected and about 15 minutes later, equalized when Benzema headed in after receiving a nice feed from Angel Di Maria. Few minutes earlier Di Maria had provided two equally good chances for Benzema, which the French Star couldn’t capitalize. Di Maria played a very spirited first-half game for Real and created several opportunities by sending lovely passes to Real forwards. He was rewarded once again, when his cross, missed by Javier Mascherano came to Benzema. The Frenchman made no error in shooting powerfully past the hapless Barca goalkeeper. Benzema would have got his hat-trick, when another of his stinging shot was cleared at the goal line by Gerard Pique.
With three minutes left for half time, Messi created football history, when he scored a superb goal from a low shot between three defenders, to equal Hugo Sanchez’s La Liga record and go past the legendary Alfredo Di Stefano’s all time high tally of 18 goals in El Classico. However, more was yet to come for Messi after half-time.
Post the interval, many of Real’s chances were created by Gareth Bale with his great athletic running mostly on the right flank. Unfortunately, these opportunities could not be capitalized. Bale was the provider for Benzema, whose attempt met with a great save by Victor Valdes. As the 54th minute approached, Dani Alves fouled the fast moving Ronaldo at the edge of the box and Real earned a Penalty, the first of the tournament. Taking the spot-kick, the Portuguese star made no mistake and put real ahead 3-2. But Real’s joy was short-lived as 10 minutes later; Neymar was brought down in the box by Sergio Ramos. The referee chose Ramos for the red card and awarded a penalty to Barcelona. While Messi placed the ball on the penalty spot, he knew the goal would take him past Hugo Sanchez for the highest number of goals in La Liga history. And it did, when Messi fired powerfully to hit the net to the left of the Real goalie. Barca earned their second penalty in the 83rd minute, when Iniesta fell while tackling Daniel Carvajal and Xabi Alonso. It really did not look like a penalty award but the referee thought otherwise. It was Messi again, who kept his mind cool and produced a shot that crashed on the top right corner of the net. With Real down to 10 men, they couldn’t find the equalizer in the remaining 7 minutes and Barcelona emerged the winner.
In the other La Liga matches played on the weekend, Atletico Madrid continued on top of league table with a 2-0 away victory over, Real Betis with both goals coming in the second-half in a space of seven minutes. At 70 points, Atletico jointly share the top spot with Real Madrid. Sevilla beat Osasuna 2-1 in another away game and Valencia defeated Villarreal also by the same margin of 2-1.
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