Sat | Jun 23, 2018

Barca humble Real in El Clasico

Published:Sunday | December 24, 2017 | 12:00 AM
Real Madrid's Cristiano Ronaldo (left) helps Barcelona's Lionel Messi get back on his feet during the Spanish La Liga match at the Santiago Bernabeu stadium in Madrid, Spain yesterday. Barcelona won 3-0.

MADRID (AP):

Barcelona have almost ended Real Madrid's defence of their Spanish league title, and there's still half a season to go. Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez left Madrid staring at a 14-point deficit after leading Barcelona to a 3-0 win at the Santiago Bernabeu yesterday.

Madrid have a game in hand, but the gap already looks too big as La Liga approaches its midway point.

"It is a loss that hurts," Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane said. "It is a very, very difficult match for us. But this is not over. It might look like it, but we can never give up."

Barcelona increased their lead to nine points over second-place AtlÈtico Madrid, who lost at Espanyol on Friday. Valencia's 1-0 loss to Villarreal at home on Saturday left them 11 points back.

 

Goal-bound header

 

Suarez struck in the 54th minute and Messi added a penalty 10 minutes later after Madrid's Dani Carvajal received a direct red for stopping a goal-bound header by Paulinho.

Messi also set up substitute Aleix Vidal to round off the commanding win in stoppage time.

Despite the standings, Barcelona coach Ernesto Valverde and his players aren't excluding a Madrid comeback.

"We took another step forward in the league," Barcelona midfielder Andres Iniesta said. "But I don't rule out Madrid. This is a long-distance race. Madrid are not out of the title race."

But Barcelona are undoubtedly performing like champions-in-waiting.

They extended its unbeaten streak to 25 matches across all competitions since losing to Madrid in the Spanish Super Cup in August when Barcelona were reeling from the departure of Neymar to Paris Saint-Germain.