Thursday, June 13, 2024

Barcelona fight back to clinch El Clasico


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MADRID: Barcelona overcame the shock of conceding a goal after just 23 seconds – the fastest in El Clasico history – to defeat bitter rivals Real Madrid 3-1 on Saturday and go top of La Liga.

French striker Karim Benzema scored the early goal to give Real a 1-0 lead after a terrible clearance from Barcelona goalkeeper Victor Valdes.

Alexis Sanchez, who was chosen ahead of David Villa, levelled in the 30th minute after a sublime through ball from Lionel Messi.

A drive from Xavi in the 53rd minute took a wicked deflection off Marcelo and beyond the desperate reach of Iker Casillas in the Real goal as Barcelona went into a 2-1 lead.

Cesc Fabregas added the third in the 65th minute, scoring with a diving header from a fine cross by Dani Alves.

It was the former Arsenal man’s 10th league goal of the campaign.

Real, who now trail Barca on goal difference, still have a game in hand over the reigning champions, but this result brought to an end a 15-match winning streak in all competitions for Jose Mourinho’s side.

An astonishing injury-time brace from Ruben Castro saw Real Betis come from behind to snatch a 2-1 win over Valencia and end a run of 10 matches without a victory. Valencia, who are seven points behind Barcelona and Real, were undone in the final minutes.

There were few chances in a high tempo first half which was emphasised by the hard work from both teams’ midfielders but after the break Betis took charge.

Jonathan Pereira in particular caused a threat down the wing and the Valencia defence was stretched to the limit.

A Benat Etxebarria free-kick was saved by Valencia keeper Diego Alves but the best chance fell to Castro who blazed over from inside the area.

Betis never looked secure at the back but conceded against the run of play after 65 minutes in the cruellest way with Jose Dorado putting a Jeremy Mathieu cross into his own goal. The Andalusian side appeared as though they were heading for defeat until Castro finally found his range, knocking in a Juanma Gomez cross in the first minute of time added-on and then grabbed the winner three minutes later after running through on goal.

Levante’s surprising start to the season continued as a scrambled goal by defender Nano Rivas gave them a 1-0 victory over Sevilla which consolidated their fourth place. The modest side from Valencia are more accustomed to fighting relegation battles but they now find themselves five points clear of Sevilla directly below them. (Agencies)


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