Guardiola delighted with Barca win

Coach Pep Guardiola heaped praise on Barcelona after seeing them

take control of the Primera Division title race with victory at

Real Madrid.

Barca moved three points clear of Madrid at the summit with

seven games remaining after goals from Lionel Messi and Pedro

Rodriguez sealed a 2-0 win in the capital.

That was the first time Barca have won successive matches at

the Bernabeu, having claimed a stunning 6-2 victory en route to

clinching the title last season, and it puts them in pole position

to retain their crown.

Not only are they now three points ahead of Madrid but they

also boast a better head-to-head record after winning 1-0 at the

Nou Camp in November as well, and that would be decisive if the

teams finish level.

Guardiola, who also become the first Barca coach to win four

successive ‘Clasicos’, said: “We’ve come to the home of the leaders

and won a very serious match. We are very happy.

“There are 21 points left but we’ve taken an important step.

“I want to congratulate my players because to beat such an

impressive team as Real Madrid is very difficult.”

The result not only ended Madrid’s 12-match winning streak in

La Liga but also ruined their perfect home record, which had stood

at 15 wins out of 15.

Messi, who took his tally to 40 goals for the season in all

competitions with his first-half strike, echoed Guardiola’s words,

saying in AS: “It was a very important win, but now we need to

continue.

“The league isn’t won. There are still matches remaining and

some difficult games, but we’ve taken an important step. We can

continue making history.”

With regards to his much-hyped duel with Madrid star

Cristiano Ronaldo – the two players are widely regarded as the best

on the planet – Messi added: “It was not between him and me. It’s

not important who is best, the important thing is that Barca are

better than Madrid.

“We are leaders again and we’ve gained an advantage for the

rest of the season. It was a tight game, and we’ve taken the

chances that we had.”

While Barca take a step closer to retaining their Primera

Division title and could still claim back-to-back Champions League

triumphs as well having reached the semi-finals in Europe, Madrid

are now facing another trophyless season.

Having already been knocked out of the Champions League and

Copa del Rey, the big-spending Whites only have the league to play

for and now they need a helping hand from other teams.

Madrid coach Manuel Pellegrini, who will be back under the

spotlight following tonight’s defeat, said: “I feel frustrated. In

the end we’ve been beaten by the better team.

“It’s a big defeat but there are still a lot of points left.

I don’t think that Barca feel they are the champions.

“There are 21 points left and Madrid are not going to give

up. We will fight until the end and will demand that Barca win all

their games.

“Barca also have the Champions League to play for and we will

keep the pressure up on them.”