Goals from Karim Benzema and Toni Kroos were enough to earn Real Madrid a 2-1 win over Barcelona in El Clasico, moving Los Blancos above rivals Atletico Madrid at the top of La Liga.
La Blaugrana dominated the ball throughout the first half but it was the hosts that broke the deadlock after 14 minutes. Federico Valverde broke forward at pace and released Lucas Vazquez into the channel, before the Spaniard crossed for Benzema to sensationally back-heel past a despairing Marc-Andre ter Stegen.
Zinedine Zidane’s men then doubled their advantage in the 28th minute, when Kroos’ free kick flew into the back of the net via a deflection off Sergino Dest.
Barcelona continued to see the lion’s share of the ball after the interval and eventually pulled one back on the hour mark. Lionel Messi and Jordi Alba linked up well down the left before the Spaniard crossed the ball into the box for Oscar Mingueza to poke home after a clever dummy from Antoine Griezmann.
Casemiro’s late red card made things awkward for Zidane’s side, but despite increased pressure and Ilaix Moriba crashing the ball onto the crossbar in the final seconds, Real Madrid held out for their third consecutive El Clasico win.
Here’s how the players rated…
Thibaut Courtois (GK) – 7/10 – Made a few crucial saves, keeping his side in front on a couple occasions.
Lucas Vazquez (RB) – 8/10 – Unfortunately forced off through injury just before the half time whistle, but was fantastic for his stint on the pitch. Always quick to nip in and win the ball, while also surging forward brilliantly – notably assisting the opener.
Eder Militao (CB) – 7/10 – Marshalled the opposition well and didn’t allow Barcelona to break in behind. Made seven interventions.
Nacho Fernandez (CB) – 7/10 – Stayed skin tight to Lionel Messi for the most part and stifled a number of attacks.
Ferland Mendy (LB) – 6/10 – Another decent display, making some vital tackles on the edge of his area. Brought the ball out of defence nicely to drive his side upfield.
Casemiro (DM) – 7/10 – A solid performance in front of the back four, breaking up play more times than you’d dare to count (we did, it was nine ball recoveries). Spoiled his evening by seeing red.
Toni Kroos (CM) – 8/10 – Didn’t see much of the ball as Barça dominated possession, but moved it on quickly and effectively when he did. A lucky deflection saw his free kick go in; but it’s a goal, so who cares?
Luka Modric (CM) – 7/10 – Energetic, aggressive and offered a little more quality than Barcelona had to offer. Hard to believe this man is 35 years of age.
Federico Valverde (RW) – 8/10 – Did his job brilliantly. Played as a right back when out of possession and marshalled Jordi Alba well, while blisteringly breaking forward when possible.
Karim Benzema (ST) – 9/10 – Played the role of leader to perfection. His work rate was faultless, his link up play was always progressive and he scored a beautiful goal to get his side going.
Vinicius Junior (LW) – 8/10 – Really threatened Barça at times, and looked creative when driving at the back line. Made three key passes and won the free kick which Kroos converted.
Alvaro Odriozola (RB) – 6/10 – Made a few crunching tackles during his time on the field, specifically one on Messi as Barca were breaking forward.
Marco Asensio (RW) – 6/10
Mariano Diaz (ST) – 6/10
Isco (CM) – 6/10
Marcelo (LW) – 6/10
Marc-Andre ter Stegen (GK) – 6/10 – Had no chance with either goal and actually made a fantastic stop to keep the score at 2-0 in the first half.
Oscar Mingueza (CB) – 7/10 – Had a thrilling battle with Vinicius Junior and, although he probably lost it, the Barça man was strong and composed for the most part. Grabbed himself a goal to cap off a decent performance.
Ronald Araujo (CB) – 6/10 – Read the game and covered his colleagues well, making a few good interventions. Not the imposing figure Gerard Pique so often is.
Clement Lenglet (CB) – 5/10 – Unusually looked uncomfortable on the ball. Looked rushed under pressure and sloppily lost possession on several occasions.
Sergino Dest (RWB) – 4/10 – Couldn’t make any sort of impact in advanced areas and exposed his central defenders to the pace of Vinicius. Sacrificed at half time for a change of shape.
Frenkie De Jong (CM) – 6/10 – Looked more threatening in his usual central midfield spot. Added an extra body in the final third and linked up play nicely to get the ball through Real’s lines.
Sergio Busquets (CM) – 6/10 – Made a few good interceptions to stifle counter attacks but, in general, was overrun against the dynamism and energy of Los Blancos’ midfield.
Jordi Alba (LWB) – 6/10 – Found very little joy going forward as he was constantly outnumbered. Managed to bag an assist when afforded the space, but was too weak in tackling Valverde in the build up to Real’s first.
Lionel Messi (RW) – 6/10 – Had moments of brilliance and always looked likely to create something. Couldn’t quite find his usual genius.
Ousmane Dembele (ST) – 5/10 – Never really managed to spin his marker and run in behind. Was given very little space and, even when pushed out wide, was closed down and nullified instantly.
Pedri (LW) – 6/10 – Floated around freely and was quick and effective on the ball to get play up the field. Made two key passes.
Antoine Griezmann (LW) – 6/10 – Played a brilliant dummy as Alba’s cross was coming into the area, allowing Mingueza to pounce behind him.
Ilaix Moriba (CM) – 6/10 – Desperately unlucky to not steal a point at the death, smashing the ball onto Courtois’ bar.
Sergi Roberto (CM) – 6/10
Martin Braithwaite (ST) – 5/10
Francisco Trincao (RW) – 5/10