Barcelona's Messi fouls Real Madrid's Alonso during their Spanish first division soccer match, the Clasico, in Madrid. Picture - Reuters.

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Barcelona went to the top of the La Liga table with a comeback 3-1 win over Real Madrid in the seventh El Clasico of the year at the Santiago Bernabeu.

The game couldn't have started better. Within just 23 seconds, Karim Benzema opened the scoring after Madrid piled pressure up front, leading to Catalan keeper Victor Valdes making a hash of his clearance. Angel Di Maria picked it up just outside the box and Mesut Ozil's shot rebounded off the defender straight to Benzema who finished well from close range.

Madrid manager Jose Mourinho had sent his team out to pressure Barca early. It clearly worked as the visitors were forced into errors. However, they could not find the decisive second goal with Cristiano Ronaldo guilty of missing from just inside the box, despite being unmarked.

As the game progressed, Barca came into it and a swift move saw Alexis Sanchez let through on goal by Lionel Messi. The Chilean made no mistake with the finish to draw Barca level.

After half-time, Barca pressed for the lead. They got it albeit in fortunate circumstances. A long shot from Xavi deflected in off Marcelo.

Madrid's pressing saw them tire out, and it leads one to wonder whether things would have been had Ronaldo managed to score with his header five yards out when unmarked during a Xabi Alonso free kick.

Shortly thereafter, a swift counter from the visitors saw Barca get the all-important third with Cesc Fabregas at hand to head in Dani Alves' cross.

Barcelona have now leapfrogged Madrid to the top of the league table, although the Los Blancos have a game in hand over their rivals.