Cristiano Ronaldo scored a late winner for Los Blancos in his side’s crucial victory over their arch rivals at Camp Nou on Saturday. Luis Enrique’s men lost 2 – 1, their first El Clasico defeat since 2014. This loss also saw their 39-game unbeaten streak snapped.
It was a very well deserved win for the visitors as they have now reduced the gap between them and the league leaders to seven points. Neither side could find a breakthrough goal in the first half, but the Catalan giants took the lead in the 56th minute through an unusual source. Gerard Pique scored a brilliant header from the corner kick to lift the crowd at Barca’s home stadium. However, they were silenced a few minutes later as Karim Benzema scored an acrobatic goal in the 63rd minute.
In the second half, Real Madrid were clearly the better side at both the ends of the pitch. Lionel Messi’s brilliant chip shot was met by an equally good save from Keylor Navas. A few minutes later, Gareth Bale was wrongly denied his first El Clasico goal as the Welshman appeared to have fouled Jordi Alba.
In the 84th minute, the ten-time European champions suffered another major blow. The team’s skipper, Sergio Ramos, picked up his second yellow card of the night and was given his marching orders by the referee. The ten-man Real Madrid didn’t sit back and on the contrary, they bravely battled for the remaining time.
Then stepped up the man the Santiago Bernabeu faithful always looks up to in face of danger. Cristiano Ronaldo brought justice to his team after the wrongly disallowed goal and the soft sending off of Ramos.
In the 85th minute, the Portuguese ace chested Bale’s cross and sent the ball into the back of the net through Claudio Bravo’s legs.
Zinedine Zidane broke Real Madrid’s recent managerial tradition of losing their debut El Clasico. This victory will definitely go a long way in convincing the club hierarchy that the Frenchman can deliver on big occasions.
In the post match conference, Sergio Ramos expressed his delight and claimed that he would rather have got the red card earlier if it made his team play better. He said: “We hurt them a lot on the counter with one player less. Had I known this before, I would have went off earlier.”
Luis Enrique offered words of wisdom after the loss. He said: “Defeat also teaches things.”
“Real Madrid have players who are tough to defend and very effective.”
“In the first half we were far superior, and we had more chances, but in the second half, they took advantage of their transitions.”
“Today we lost turned over too many easy balls.”
“In the second half, they stayed back and looked for the transition, and for most of the game we held them in check.”
Barcelona and Real Madrid will feature in next week’s Champions League quarter-final matches. Real Madrid will travel to Wolfsburg on Wednesday while Barcelona plays host to Atletico Madrid on Tuesday. Barcelona boss has already put this defeat behind him and is now focusing on home leg against Diego Simeone’s boss.
He added: “Our opponents will put on a lot of pressure and will make it tough for us.”