Real Madrid ran out convincing 3-1 winners of their latest clash with arch-rivals Barcelona.
The game had been given added significance with Luis Suarez starting for the first time in a Barcelona shirt. The Uruguayan looked set to hit the headlines yet again when providing the pass for Neymar to fire his team ahead after just three minutes. Hopes of a stunning El Classico victory gradually receded as the game went on and the home side took control of the match.
Goals from Cristiano Ronaldo, Pepe and Karim Benzema were sufficient to give Madrid a comfortable 3-1 victory to bring them within a point of Barcelona in La Liga. Suarez?s debut came exactly four months and one day after he bit Italy?s Giorgio Chiellini at the World Cup. The visiting supporters nearly had more to celebrate when Suarez set up Lionel Messi but Iker Casillas managed to block his goal-bound effort.
The game turned when Gerard Piqué handled Marcelo?s cross to concede a soft penalty which Ronaldo calmly converted. It was the first goal Barcelona had conceded this season and ended an incredible 776 minutes unbeaten for Claudio Bravo. It also took Ronaldo?s tally to sixteen in the league and Real seized control of the match.
They took the lead early in the second half when the un-marked Pepe headed home a long ball from Toni Kroos. Before Barcelona could re-group, they found themselves 3-1 down after a shambolic piece of play left Isco to sweep up-field with the ball eventually falling for Benzema to seal the win.
Suarez was substituted after 69 minutes and coach Luis Enrique declared himself more than satisfied with the contribution for the £75million signing from Liverpool. With Barcelona having made such a blistering start to the season, many questioned the wisdom of introducing him for such an important game but Real were much the better side. It will be fascinating to see how Enrique accommodates Suarez into his side alongside Neymar and Messi.
It was a first win against Barcelona for Real boss Carlo Ancelotti who was delighted to see his side move within a point of the league leaders. He singled out striker Benzema for particular praise, the French International having also struck twice against Liverpool in the Champions League in midweek. Valencia moved up to third in the table by beating Elche 3-1 while Sevilla are also in contention in fourth place ahead of Atletico Madrid.