Saturday, April 21, 2012


                      Real Madrid celebrating their victory at the Nou Camp

Real Madrid have one hand on a first La Liga trophy in four years after Cristiano Ronaldo scored a brilliant winner in a 2-1 victory at Barcelona on Saturday that stretched their lead over their bitter rivals to seven points with four games left.

It was Real's first win in eight La Liga 'Clasicos' and could have an impact on confidence for next week's Champions League semifinal second legs when Real host Bayern Munich and Barca entertain Chelsea.

On a rain-swept night at the Nou Camp, when Real also set a new record of 109 goals scored in a league season, Sami Khedira was sharpest to react when Barca goalkeeper Victor Valdes dropped the ball at a corner and the young German midfielder bundled it over the line for a 17th-minute lead which was left with near silence from the Nou Camp faithful 

The noise volume inside the giant arena rose after substitute Alexis Sanchez finally scrambled the ball in for the equaliser with 20 minutes left.

But, rather than implode as they have done so often in this fixture over recent years, Real responded with class just three minute after Barca's equalizer.

Mesut Ozil's superb pass released Ronaldo on the right and he took the ball wide before smashing it home past Valdes after the latter decided to race off his line.
                    Cristanio Ronaldo living up to expectation as he scores the winner                                         against Barca

Clearly stunned, Barca offered no response of note and it was Real who finished the stronger, with Ronaldo inches away from adding a crowning third in stoppage time.

The goal, extending his La Liga record tally for the season to 42, was the best response to critics who accuse the Portuguese of flopping in big games and he is now one goal ahead of Barca forward Lionel Messi at the top of the scoring chart.

Barca had won six Clasicos and drawn one since coach Pep Guardiola took over in 2008. It was a first victory in the contest for Guardiola's Real counterpart Jose Mourinho in four attempts.

Saturday's match followed a similar pattern to Wednesday's game at Stamford Bridge, with Barca dominating possession but struggling to find a way through a resolute defence.

The Spanish and European champions suffered back-to-back defeats for the first time in nearly three years and now need to regroup for Tuesday's clash with Chelsea.


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