Barcelona, Spain, Oct 24 (EFE).- Real Madrid secured a 2-1 road win over Barcelona before 86,922 spectators at Camp Nou on Sunday thanks to a nice shot by David Alaba 32 minutes into play and a counterattack in the 94th minute, with Lucas Vazquez making it 2-0, although Sergio Anguero scored a too-little-too-late goal for the home team three minutes later.
The best scoring chance for Barcelona came in the 24th minute when Sergiño Dest found himself one on one against capital squad goaltender Thibaut Courtois but sent the ball far too high, and after the break it was Dest again who tried a rather distant shot on goal that failed to hit, while Ansu Fati fired one right into the hands of the Belgian netminder.
It was the first post-Lionel Messi “Clasico” face-off between the two teams and they seemed rather evenly matched all the way through a contest that served up very few shots on goal.
Barca came out with verve early on, dominating play for the first 20 minutes and trying to get the momentum going in its almost-full stadium, which in Sunday’s match-up fully recovered its pre-pandemic noise and splendor.
Vinicius gradually began to exert a telling effect from the left, but Barca’s Dest got off the team’s first shot on goal, although it went far over the net.
Real Madrid, however, on its first really good drive just after the half-hour mark, set up Alaba, who fired a great curving left-footer that Marc-Andre Ter Stegen couldn’t handle for the 1-0.
Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti, using the same starting 11 that put down Shakhtar Donetsk, had a clear counterattack-based game plan working right from the start Barcelona’s Ronald Koeman replaced his original 4-4-3 positioning with a 4-2-3-1, with Coutinho in the point position, the same set-up he had used with little success four days prior in Champions action against Kiev’s Dinamo.
Play went back and forth with good defense prevailing and shots on goal going astray but ultimately in stoppage time it was the just-inserted Asensio who planted himself right in front of Ter Stegen and fired a shot that was deflected off Vazquez’s shoe and into the net for the 2-0.
On the very next play and in the closing seconds of the match, Aguero got the ball into the net on a cross from Dest for a home squad consolation goal.
With the win, Real Madrid is on top of the La Liga table, albeit level with Sevilla and Real Sociedad, with the latter able to reclaim the summit slot later on Sunday if it gets a good result against Atletico Madrid.
Barcelona, on the other hand, has had a rough go since it failed to re-sign Messi and other players and currently sits in the No. 8 position, five points behind the leaders.
Barcelona: Ter Stegen; Mingueza (Coutinho, min.46), Eric García, Pique, Jordi Alba; Sergio Busquets, Frenkie de Jong (Sergi Roberto, min.77), Gavi (De Jong, min.85); Dest, Ansu Fati (Aguero, min.74) and Memphis.
Real Madrid: Courtois; Lucas Vazquez, Militao, Alaba, Mendy; Casemiro, Kroos, Modric; Rodrygo (Valverde, min.72; Carjaval, min.91), Benzema and Vinicius (Asensio, min.87).