Goals from David Alaba and Lucas Vazquez gave Real Madrid a 2-1 win in El Clasico away to FC Barcelona on Sunday afternoon.
Madrid won the game by being organized at the back and taking their chances on the break. Sergio Aguero scored in the 97th minute for a Barcelona side that otherwise failed to test Real Madrid keeper Thibaut Courtois.
Both sides lined up more or less as expected with Jordi Alba passed fit to accompany Gerard Pique, Eric Garcia and Oscar Mingueza in defense, while Memphis Depay partnered Ansu Fati in attack for Barca.
Real Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti fielded experienced trio Toni Kroos, Luka Modric and Casemiro in midfield, with the pace of Vinicius Jr and Rodrygo partnering Karim Benzema in attack.
The game began with both teams looking to press high up the field, with the result that there was a lot of tension, but that both keepers were virtual spectators.
Vinicius was looking dangerous for Real Madrid, causing Mingueza problems with his pace and dribbling ability, and the Brazilian had a penalty appeal turned down after turning the defender and then going down after slight contact.
He then had a shot blocked after turning Marc-Andre Ter Stegen inside out, although a late offside flag spared his blushes.
At the other end, Sergino Dest should have scored when Fati's dummy left him with just Courtois to beat, but the American blazed over the bar as the game opened up.
Real Madrid made Barca pay for Dest's miss in the 32nd minute when Alaba thumped home from the edge of the area to finish a counter-attack that he had started deep in his own half. After taking a pass from Vinicius, the defender hit his shot across Ter Stegen into the far corner of the net.
The Austrian then blocked Fati's effort in the last minute of the half as Barca looked to react.
Koeman ended Mingueza's misery at half-time, replacing him with Philippe Coutinho and dropping Dest back into defense, and Coutinho was quickly into action with a shot blocked by the Madrid defense, before Courtois saved from Fati.
Barca were pressing without really calling Courtois into action, while at the other end Dest almost gifted Vinicius a second for Madrid with a weak backpass, but recovered in time to frustrate the winger, before Benzema shot tamely at Ter Stegen after great work from Modric.
Madrid's attacks always looked slightly sharper than Barca's, and with 15 minutes left to play, Aguero replaced the tiring Fati, while Sergi Roberto replaced the disappointing Frenkie de Jong.
Aguero saw a header loop over the bar as Barca tried to make something happen, with Madrid packing their box and slowing the game down when they had the ball.
Courtois went down holding his knee in the last minute of normal time, but was able to continue just before Madrid scored their second of the game.
Coutinho failed to take a chance in the Madrid area, and after a scramble in their area, the visitors broke with the ball falling to Marco Asensio, and although Ter Stegen saved his shot, Vazquez was on hand to put the ball into the empty net.
Aguero pulled a goal back after good work from Dest, but it was too late for Barca.
Published : October 25, 2021
By : Xinhua