Neymar makes his mark as Barcelona triumph
Brazilian forward scores opener as Real Madrid lose first El Clásico of season
Neymar celebrates after scoring the opening goal for Barcelona during the La Liga match between against Real Madrid at Camp Nou in Barcelona. Photograph: David Ramos/Getty Images
Barcelona 2 Real Madrid 1: Neymar stole the show from the likes of Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale when the Brazilian’s strike set Barcelona on the way to a 2-1 win over Real Madrid in Saturday’s El Clásico at the Camp Nou.
Barca landed a blow in the title race when Neymar scored a clinical goal in the 19th minute before substitute Alexis Sanchez netted with a brilliant chip 11 minutes from time in the 167th league meeting between the bitter rivals.
Jese came off the bench to pull a goal back in the first minute of added time but it was little more than a consolation for Real, who were outplayed for long periods and slip six points behind the champions with 10 matches played.
The hosts dominated the play in the first half, up against an experimental Madrid side which included defender Sergio Ramos playing as a third holding midfielder and Ronaldo starting as a centre forward, with Karim Benzema and Isco left on the bench.
Bale made his second start for Real Madrid but was unable to influence the game and had a frustrating evening, only managing two long-range shots which missed the target, and then picking up a yellow card for a producing a high foot during a challenge with Gerard Pique.
Before the game the home fans held aloft a huge mosaic with a supporting message for former coach Tito Vilanova, who was forced to resign in the summer to continue with cancer treatment.
Barca started stronger with Andres Iniesta controlling their play but they did not create many clear chances until Neymar broke the deadlock on 18 minutes.
Sergio Busquets played in Iniesta, who marauded towards goal and then gave the ball to Neymar on the left-hand side of the penalty area.
Barca could have get a second goal a couple of minutes later, Messi racing down the right before shooting a few feet wide of the far post with his left foot.
Madrid were without shape and without ideas. Their only attempts on goal were long-range efforts from Ronaldo and Bale which were never going on target, although Los Blancos thought they could have had a penalty just before the break.
Ronaldo put in a cross towards Sami Khedira from the left-hand side and Victor Valdes came out to gather but could not keep control of the ball, which may have struck the hand of Barcelona defender Adriano before the goalkeeper collected it again.