MADRID (AP):Real Madrid beat Barcelona for the second time in five days, earning a 2-1 win yesterday which will do little to prevent their fierce rivals from reclaiming the Spanish league title, but should boost Jose Mourinho's team ahead of their critical Champions League trip to Manchester United.
Sergio Ramos netted the winner in the 82nd minute when he rose up to head in Luka Modric's corner to give Madrid their first home league victory over Barcelona since 2008, in a game that grew testy towards the end.
The game ended with the referee ignoring Ramos' trip of Adriano in the area that would have meant a stoppage-time penalty, leading to Valdes' sending off for receiving two yellow cards for protesting vehemently.
Lionel Messi had extended his Spanish league scoring record to 16 straight games when he equalised in the 18th minute to cancel out Karim Benzema's sixth-minute opener. That was Messi's 18th career goal in 'Clasico' matches to tie Madrid great Alfredo Di Stefano's mark set in the 1950s and '60s, but Barcelona were otherwise a shadow of the thrilling team that until last season had dominated the rivalry in recent years.
"We deserved to win. The team has been strengthened by these 'Clasico' matches," Ramos said. "We are going to Manchester convinced (we will move on), but with respect for our opponent."
Madrid even managed without Cristiano Ronaldo for much of the match, as Mourinho rested the Portuguese winger until the final half hour with the game against United on Tuesday in mind.
Ronaldo scored twice on Tuesday in a 3-1 win over Barcelona at Camp Nou that put Madrid into the Copa del Rey final.
While Madrid remain 13 points behind Barcelona in the league, this result could allow second-place Atletico Madrid to cut the deficit to nine points today at Malaga.
Barcelona have now flopped in their last three games against major opponents after also losing 2-0 at AC Milan in the Champions League. They face an uphill battle against the Italian side in the return leg on March 12 and must look to regroup quickly.