Sun | May 28, 2017

CR7, Madrid spoil Suarez debut in big Clasico win

Published:Sunday | October 26, 2014 | 10:00 AM
Real Madrid's Pepe (left) celebrates his goal with team-mates at yesterday's Spanish La Liga match against Barcelona at the Santiago Bernabeu stadium in Madrid. Real Madrid won 3-1. -AP

MADRID (AP):Cristiano Ronaldo scored to spark Real Madrid's 3-1 comeback win over Barcelona in a thrilling "clasico" match yesterday in the Spanish league that handed the visitors their first loss of the season.

The result spoiled a strong Barcelona debut by Luis Suarez, who played well in his first game since a four-month biting ban and set up Neymar to fire in a long strike for a fourth-minute lead at the Santiago Bernabeu Stadium.

But Ronaldo levelled from the penalty spot in the 35th to end Barcelona's record of eight clean sheets to start the season.

Pepe punished Barcelona's shaky set-piece defence by adding a header to take the lead in the 50th, and Karim Benzema left the visitors deflated by sealing the win in the 61st after having hit the woodwork twice in the first half.

Madrid in second place

Madrid moved into second place one point behind Barcelona with a ninth straight win in all competitions. Carlo Ancelotti's team has outscored its rivals 38-6 in that stretch. Sevilla can pull level with Barcelona with a win over Villarreal today.

Barcelona's Lionel Messi entered the game one goal shy of equalling Telmo Zarra's Spanish league scoring record of 251 goals but it was an uncharacteristically quiet night for the four-time Ballon d' Or winner.

Ronaldo won the duel of the star players, extending his scoring run to 11 straight games and increasing his league-leading tally to 16 goals through nine rounds. It was also his 21st goal overall this season.

Neymar controlled Suarez's well-weighted cross, cut back across the top of the box to round Dani Carvajal and Pepe and open an angle before he drilled a right-footed strike past Casillas and into the lower corner of the net.

Just when Barcelona were playing their best, Marcelo made an incursion down the left side and sent in a low cross that Gerard Pique stopped with his arm as he fell.

Ronaldo stepped up to take the resulting penalty and fired it into the corner to leave goalkeeper Claudio Bravo's league record of not conceding a goal at eight games and 35 minutes.

Madrid went in front when Barcelona conceded a corner following Javier Mascherano's poor pass, giving Pepe a chance to thump in Toni Kroos' corner after he shed his marker.

Barcelona tried to fight back, and Jeremy Mathieu forced Casillas to make a diving parry in the 56th.

But a madcap series of errors by Barcelona let Madrid put the result beyond doubt.

Ivan Rakitic, in his first action since replacing Xavi, flubbed his corner kick and Iniesta and Mascherano stared at one another while Francisco "Isco" Alarcon won the clearance near midfield. Rodriguez ended up with the ball and set up Benzema to finally slot it home, with the ball hitting the post but going in this time.