VIDEO Barcelona 2-1 Real Madrid: Highlights; Alexis Sanchez Wonder Goal Secures Barca Clasico Win

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Alexis Sanchez
Alexis Sanchez celebrates scoring Barcelona's second goal with the scorer of the first, Neymar.

A spectacular chip from Alexis Sanchez secured Barcelona the spoils in the first Clasico of the season, with a 2-0 victory over Real Madrid at the Camp Nou. Neymar had taken just 18 minutes to make an impact in his first Clasico with a deflected strike to put the home side in front. After a timid opening period, the match really came to life in the second, with Madrid on top for the majority of it.

Yet, with Victor Valdes outstanding, Karim Benzema striking the crossbar and Cristiano Ronaldo having a clear penalty appeal turned down, Madrid just couldn’t find an equalizer their play warranted. And with Barcelona pegged back and living on the edge, Sanchez came up with a piece of magic 12 minutes from the end to ease the tension. Young substitute Jese pulled one back in injury time, but the damage had been done.

It’s a victory that gives Barcelona what is, even at this early stage of the season, a commanding six point lead at the summit of La Liga. With both clubs under new managers, it had been Gerardo Martino who had started the season the better with eight straight wins, while Carlo Ancelotti suffered some early teething problems. But in the past week that narrative has changed with Madrid coming into form as Barcelona moved out of it. And that trend was largely continued in the Clasico. Barcelona take the points, but Madrid emerge with ample credit.  

A spectacular chip from Alexis Sanchez secured Barcelona the spoils in the first Clasico of the season, with a 2-0 victory over Real Madrid at the Camp Nou. Neymar had taken just 18 minutes to make an impact in his first Clasico with a deflected strike to put the home side in front. After a timid opening period, the match really came to life in the second, with Madrid on top for the majority of it.

Yet, with Victor Valdes outstanding, Karim Benzema striking the crossbar and Cristiano Ronaldo having a clear penalty appeal turned down, Madrid just couldn’t find an equalizer their play warranted. And with Barcelona pegged back and living on the edge, Sanchez came up with a piece of magic 12 minutes from the end to ease the tension. Young substitute Jese pulled one back in injury time, but the damage had been done.

It’s a victory that gives Barcelona what is, even at this early stage of the season, a commanding six point lead at the summit of La Liga. With both clubs under new managers, it had been Gerardo Martino who had started the season the better with eight straight wins, while Carlo Ancelotti suffered some early teething problems. But in the past week that narrative has changed with Madrid coming into form as Barcelona moved out of it. And that trend was largely continued in the Clasico. Barcelona take the points, but Madrid emerge with ample credit for their second-half showing. That, though, is unlikely to be much comfort to Ancelotti when he heads back to Madrid tonight.

While the penalty appeal turned down for Javier Mascherano’s foul on Ronaldo will be much discussed, the other big talking point will surely be Ancelotti’s team selection and the inclusion of Bale in particular. After two substitute appearances on his latest return from injury, the big-money summer signing was included from the start in a previously untested front three alongside Ronaldo and Angel di Maria. Just how much pressure from above, either implicit or explicit, was on Ancelotti to play the Welshman can only be speculated upon. What is certain is that Bale looked badly off the pace and Madrid largely dysfunctional until he was replaced by Benzema after an hour.

One of the subplots to the match coming in was the rivalry between the two new supporting actors: Bale and Neymar. In that battle there was only one winner.

The Brazilian provided the first shot on target of a fairly cagey beginning to the contest 18 minutes in with a tame effort. Just a minute later he would enjoy far more success. Andres Iniesta was the man to make the goal with a typical run to the edge of the box and then came a subtle, yet delightful, switch if the ball from his right foot to his left to enable a pass through to Neymar. The trickery caught out Daniel Carvajal, who then committed his second mistake by allowing the former Santos man to cut back on his right foot for a shot toward the far corner that deflected off the right-back’s leg and past Diego Lopez.

The score could so easily have been 2-0 less than two minutes later. Barcelona’s greater willingness to sit back and play on the counter was seen as Messi was played into space down the right, with Marcelo, not for the last time, out of position. From there the Argentinian would be expected to find the net, but, instead, with Pepe getting back just quickly enough to provide a distraction, he shot wide of the far post. It summed up what was a subdued performance by a man who has so often shone in these most intense of occasions.

Madrid were having a decent share of possession, but lacked any cohesion or real creativity to do anything from it. Ancelotti’s other big selection decision had been to pick Sergio Ramos in an unfamiliar midfield role and leaving Isco on the bench. It left Madrid largely devoid of creative dynamism. It wasn’t until the final stages of the first half that they threatened the opposition goal. Sami Khedira slid onto the end of Ronaldo’s fine cross but Valdes produced a superb stop from close range. Madrid’s appeals for a penalty for a Mascherano handball were in this instance misguided.

With the moment perhaps the catalyst, Madrid came out a side transformed in the second half. The introduction of Asier Illarramendi for Ramos helped, but the main difference what the far greater intensity about their game, particularly in the midfield where they began to overrun Barcelona.

That point was perfectly illustrated as Ronaldo was provided a glorious chance to level. Khedira and Luka Modric hassled Iniesta off the ball and the Croatian played in Ronaldo, but his left-footed shot was thwarted by another wonderful save by Valdes.

After Ronaldo was floored by a clumsy challenge from behind by Mascherano in the box, Madrid soon tasted further frustration. Benzema has had a poor start to the season but so nearly made himself a hero to the Madrid faithful with a stunning turn and strike from 25 yards that came back flush off the crossbar.

It was Barcelona who had the killer final touch that Madrid lacked. Martino must also take some credit for his decision to turn to the speed of Sanchez from the bench that paid huge dividends. The Chilean ran onto a ball forward, held off a challenge from Raphael Varane and, with Diego Lopez neglecting to move back onto his line, he took advantage with a glorious chip from 25 yards.

Madrid still threatened late on, but Jese’s fine finish under Valdes after good work from Ronaldo was too little too late. 

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Barcelona vs Real Madrid 2:1 GOALS HIGHLIGHTS by footballdaily1

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