Barcelona dominates Real Madrid in 4-0 El Clásico victory
MADRID (AP) — Luis Suarez scored twice and Neymar added a goal and an assist to lead Barcelona to an emphatic 4-0 win over Real Madrid at the Santiago Bernabeu in the first "clasico" of the season on Saturday.
The defeat handed hand Madrid its first home loss in 23 Spanish league games while Barcelona opened up a six-point lead in the standings.
Barcelona played most of the match without Lionel Messi, who came off the bench in the 56th after being sidelined for nearly two months because of a left knee injury.
Real Madrid fans loudly jeered their team after the loss, its fourth in the last five games against Barcelona. Fans waved white handkerchiefs — a sign of dissatisfaction that means "bye-bye" to the coach (Rafa Benitez) — and called for the resignation of president Florentino Perez. Iniesta was applauded by some Madrid fans when he was substituted in the second half.
Real Madrid played the final minutes with 10 men as Francisco Alarcon "Isco" was sent off after a hard foul on Neymar in the 85th.
There were unprecedented security measures in place after the attacks in Paris last week, with nearly 3,000 policemen and private security officers working to maintain public safety at the 81,000-capacity stadium. There was a minute of silence in honor of the victims in Paris, and a large French flag was displayed across some of the lower fan sections as the players lined up at midfield before kickoff.
Barcelona reached 30 points from 12 matches with the victory, while Madrid remained with 24 points. Madrid needed to win to pull even with the rival in points and return to the top of the standings on goal difference.
Third-place Atletico, which plays at Real Betis on Sunday, is one point behind Madrid, and seven behind Barcelona.
Suarez and Neymar, meanwhile, continued to improve on their incredible scoring streak — the South American duo has scored 23 of the team's 27 goals since Messi got injured. It was Suarez's seventh and eighth goals in the last five games, and Neymar's sixth in the last four games.
Messi recovered from a left knee injury but started the clasico on bench because he was not yet 100 percent fit physically. The Argentine playmaker had missed the last nine Barcelona games.
Suarez opened the scoring in the 11th after receiving a perfect pass by Sergi Roberto behind the defenders. He used the outside of his right foot to quickly fire a firm low shot into the far corner, giving no chance to Madrid goalkeeper Keylor Navas.
Neymar increased the lead from close range in the 39th after a through ball by Iniesta. The Brazilian controlled the ball inside the area and sent it into the net with a low left-footed shot underneath Navas, who touched the ball but couldn't completely block the shot. Replays showed that Neymar appeared to be slightly offside when he received Iniesta's pass.
Iniesta scored the third with a powerful strike into the top of the net after receiving a back-heel pass from Neymar just inside the box shortly after the restart.
Suarez also had a great chance to make it 4-0, but his close-range shot found the outside of the net but he eventually scored the after being found by Jordi Alba in the 74th.
Madrid came pressuring in the second half and had good early chances with Marcelo and James Rodriguez. Barcelona goalkeeper Claudio Bravo had to make a great stop on Rodriguez's low shot from outside the area.
Bravo also came up big in some of Ronaldo's few chances to score, blocking the striker's shot from just in front of the net in the 67th and deflecting his close-range header in the 90th.
Barcelona coach Luis Enrique had the return of Rakitic, who had been nursing a muscle problem, but he lost defender Javier Mascherano less than 30 minutes into the match because of another injury.
Madrid was at full strength only for the second time this season. Benitez started with playmaker Rodriguez instead of defensive midfielder Casemiro, giving the team a more offensive setup, but the hosts were not able to threaten to the disappointment of the fans that packed the Bernabeu.