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

shot.

”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

true.”

Neymar received an ovation when he was substituted with six

minutes to go after a match in which the Brazilian striker clearly

outshone Bale.

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

superlative mark.”

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.”