Barcelona beat Real Madrid 3-2 in the first leg of the Spanish Super Cup, with goals from Lionel Messi, Pedro and Xavi enough to give the Catalans a slender advantage.
But it could, and should, have been greater. A shocking howler from Barca keeper Victor Valdes gifted Jose Mourinho’s side a route back into the match as Angel Di Maria capitalised on a Valdes mistake to make it 3-2 in the 85th minute.
Cristiano Ronaldo had put Real Madrid ahead just after half-time with a thumping header but Barcelona were level inside 60 seconds.
Pedro latched onto a raking through-ball and took one touch before blasting past Iker Casillas. A penalty from Lionel Messi put Barca ahead and a fantastic goal from Xavi extended their advantage.
Xavi’s goal owed everything to the masterful work of his midfield patner Andres Iniesta. The Spain midfielder jinked his way through Madrid’s defenders before slipping a perfect pass to his teammate.
Xavi didn’t disappoint and calmly slotted Barcelona into a two-goal lead.
But a late mistake from Valdes took the gloss off what would have been a dream El Clasico debut for new Barca boss Tito Vilanova.
Instead, Di Maria’s goal means there is still everything to play for in the second leg at the Bernabeu next week.