Football

Neymar and Sanchez help Barcelona claim El Clasico win

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Goals from Neymar and Alexis Sanchez were enough to help Barcelona claim a 2-1 victory in the first La Liga Clasico of the season at the Nou Camp tonight.

Both teams caused a few eyebrows to be raised with their team selections; Barcelona opting to field Andres Iniesta, Xavi and Cesc Fabregas together, forsaking any width that the likes of Pedro or Alexis Sanchez could bring.

Taking charge of his first Spanish league derby, Madrid boss Carlo Ancelotti opted to deploy Sergio Ramos in midfield, while also going for an attacking trio of Gareth Bale, Cristiano Ronaldo, and Angel di Maria, meaning striker Karim Benzema dropped down to the bench.

Neymar broke the deadlock after a cagey opening quarter of an hour. Andres Iniesta broke free from the middle of the pitch to feed Neymar on the left.

The former Santos man worked his way towards goal, and fired into the bottom corner past Diego Lopez in the Real Madrid goal, in part thanks to a deflection off Raphael Varane.

The goal means Neymar joins the likes of Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Ruud van Nistelrooy as one of only a handful of players to have scored in their first ever Clasico.

That goal sparked the game into life and an otherwise quiet Lionel Messi should have made it two almost immediately after Neymar's opener.

The Argentinian sprung Real Madrid's offside trap to scamper down the right flank, but hesitated slightly and dragged his shot wide. 

Sami Khedira was adamant he should have had had a penalty later on the first half when Ronaldo's low fired cross ricocheted off Adriano's arm with the German closing in.

The first half drew to a close without further incident, although Ramos could count himself lucky to still be on the pitch after more than one infringement.

Real Madrid started the second half stronger and with Ramos soon withdrawn after another borderline foul, Los Blancos found their rhythm with Asier Illarramendi anchoring their midfield.

Khedira should have done better when he was fed through clean on goal, but with Ronaldo screaming for the ball in the middle of the pitch, the midfielder fired straight at Victor Valdes, who enjoyed a good day at the office.

Not long after Ronaldo's calls for a penalty fell on death ears after he was bought down by Javier Mascherano, while Benzema, on for the entirely anonymous Bale, rattled the crossbar.

After 78 minutes Sanchez, on as a substitute for Ces Fabregas nine minutes earlier, put the game to bed in the most sublime manner imaginable.

Neymar slipped a fine pass through the middle for the Chilean to latch on to, but with Varane covering the chance looked gone.

However the former Udinese ace slipped his man to earn a yard, spotted Lopez off his line and chipped a beautiful finish over his head.

Ronaldo's bursting run set up sub Jese Rodriguez to slip one past Valdes - who will feel he should have done better - on the 90th minute, but it was too little too late as Barcelona opened up a six-point gap on their fierce rivals. 

Topics:
Football
Barcelona
Real Madrid
La Liga
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