Here, Sports Mole dissects the 90 minutes of action between the two Spanish rivals.
On target: 6
On target: 5
Was the result fair?
El Clasico has delivered some sensational entertainment in recent seasons and that was again the case this evening. It was Barcelona that took the lead inside four minutes through Neymar, but the response from the hosts was very strong. They should have been level in the 10-minute period that followed, but Benzema hit the woodwork in addition to failing to convert a low cross from Marcelo. Real finally moved level 10 minutes before the interval when Ronaldo converted from the penalty spot and from that moment, the home side were the better team. As expected, Barcelona had plenty of the ball throughout the contest, but they did struggle to create clear opportunities. There is no doubt that Los Blancos deserved all three points in Madrid.
Real Madrid's performance
Since losing two of their first three league games of the season, Real Madrid have now won their last seven in La Liga. They made the worst possible start after just four minutes, but their response was that of a team that were confident of turning it around. As mentioned, they should have been level before Ronaldo converted from the penalty spot, but they had to bide their time against a defence that had not previously conceded in the league this season. Barcelona had their moments in the second period, but Real always offered the impression that they could find the back of the net on each counter-attack.
Their second came from a powerful Pepe header, but their third was pure inspiration. A mix-up in the Barcelona half presented the ball to Isco, who found Ronaldo. The Portuguese in turn played in James, who set up Benzema for a brilliant finish. The home side could have had four or five in the latter stages after a series of counter-attacks, but their total remained at three. Their forward players will gain much of the attention, but their entire back four, especially Dani Carvajal, were excellent. It was an overwhelmingly positive occasion for manager Carlo Ancelotti.
All the talk prior to the match was whether a certain Luis Suarez would start, and head coach Luis Enrique did take the decision to put the striker straight into the team. It was another of their attacking talents, Neymar, who opened the scoring, but it was a disappointing night for the Catalan outfit. They never really got to grips with the midfield battle, with Xavi and Andres Iniesta too slow off the mark and Sergio Busquets looking leggy following a period on the sidelines.
It might have been a different story had Lionel Messi, who struggled to influence proceedings, converted his golden chance in the first period, but opportunities for the Catalan outfit were few and far between in the second 45 minutes. Enrique's side entered the match having not conceded a single goal in the league this season, but their back four looked far from watertight, with Gerard Pique and Jeremy Mathieu both struggling. Their performance would have been enough to win at most stadiums in the division, but not against a Real Madrid side that are the form team in European football right now.
Sports Mole's man of the match
Karim Benzema: This is a really difficult decision. Carvajal is worth a mention, with his all-action performance from right-back one of the highlights for the home team. However, Benzema just gets the nod for his work in the final third. The Frenchman started the season in disappointing fashion, but has been excellent over the last month. He caused the Barcelona defence all sorts of problems with his movement, while it was his goal that ultimately killed off the challenge from the visitors. It was just about the perfect striking performance from the 26-year-old.
Barcelona defender Pique did not enter the match in the best of form, and that continued in the first period in Madrid. The Spaniard was a shade fortunate not to concede a penalty for a pull on Benzema early on, but the referee did penalise the defender for handball inside the box on 34 minutes. It seemed avoidable, with Pique sticking his arm out to block a cross after falling to the ground. It was a strange piece of play from the unsettled 27-year-old. That said, the mix-up between Iniesta and Mathieu that led to Real Madrid's third was not too far behind.
Matches involving Real Madrid and Barcelona are always intense, and it is always difficult for the referee. That said, Jesus Gil, who is just 30, had an impressive night in the capital. The Spaniard rightly turned down a couple of early penalty appeals, but was correct in awarding Real a spot kick when Pique handled inside the box. In total, he issued six yellow cards - four of which went to Barcelona in the first period and two for Madrid in the second. Gil put down his mark in the early stages and seemed to gain respect from the players as the match progressed.
Real Madrid: Los Blancos return to league action away to Granada next Saturday afternoon.
Barcelona: Barcelona return to the Camp Nou next time out as they welcome Celta Vigo on November 1.