Neymar leads Barcelona to 2-1 win over Madrid
Neymar scored one goal and set up Alexis Sanchez’s winning chip
shot in the 78th minute, carrying Barcelona past Real Madrid 2-1 in
the first ”clasico” since the defending champions added Neymar
and Real signed Gareth Bale.
With Lionel Messi oddly quiet for Barcelona, Neymar opened the
scoring in the 19th minute from close range after a pass from
Andres Iniesta. Two minutes earlier, Neymar struck the ball into
the arms of Madrid goalkeeper Diego Lopez with the game’s first
”Scoring a goal in a clasico is very special,” Neymar said.
”It’s a game that everyone wants to play. It was like a dream come
Neymar received an ovation when he was substituted with six
minutes to go after a match in which the Brazilian striker clearly
Neymar joined Barcelona this offseason for $76 million, a player
who could represent the team’s future in a distant post-Messi era.
Bale, an attacking midfielder from Wales, signed with Real Madrid
for a sum reported variously at $120 million and $132 million.
Barcelona coach Gerardo Martino, also making his clasico debut,
was careful not to overpraise Neymar, while also giving credit to
Messi for his work in defense.
”The transcendence of this game and the goal he scored
magnified the level of his performance,” Martino said about
Neymar. ”But I think he has had better games than tonight. As far
as what (Messi) did for the team to recover the ball, I give him a
Bale failed to produce a shot on goal before being replaced by
Karim Benzema with a half hour to go. Bale was limited to a pair of
harmless long attempts that sailed high as Madrid failed to muster
a shot on target until a minute before halftime.
Bale was making his second start of the season since being
hampered by muscle injuries, but didn’t prove effective in attack
with Cristiano Ronaldo.
Benzema hit the woodwork before Sanchez took Neymar’s pass and
sealed the victory with an exquisite chip. Substitute Jese
Rodriguez scored for Madrid in injury time on a counterattack.
Barcelona now has nine victories and one draw in the Spanish
league, lifting it four points ahead of Atletico Madrid, which
hosts Real Betis on Sunday.
Madrid is now six points back amid fresh doubts about the team
under new coach Carlo Ancelotti following losses to both its league
challengers. It lost 1-0 to Atletico last month.
”I think we showed good football in front of a fantastic
team,” Ancelotti said after his first clasico. ”Of course, we
want to win this kind of game but at this moment it was a good
test. We are improving.”