Karim Benzema, Federico Valverde and Rodrygo scored on Sunday as Real Madrid beat Barcelona 3-1 to move to the top of the Spanish league.
The defeat was a further blow to Barca and their coach, Xavi Hernandez, after they were on the verge of elimination in the Champions League group stage following a draw with Inter Milan in midweek.
Barça had no response to Vinicius Jr’s relentless speed and Toni Kroos’s precise passes. Both were the architects of several dangerous occasions, including the first two goals for the white team.
The two combined with one-touch passes on the play for Benzema’s goal. The French striker struck an empty goal on the rebound after goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen deflected a Vinicius shot in the 12th minute.
At 35, Vinicius took advantage of a mistake by defender Eric García to run into the area and create space for Valverde, who, unmarked on the edge of the area, beat the goalkeeper with a tremendous shot.
“Sometimes when they don’t come in you need a bit of luck at key moments, they left a lot of gaps and we were able to take advantage of them,” Valverde told local television after the game.
“Today I am adding quite a bit as a winger, I try to enjoy myself in each position, to give my best in each position. I know that up top I can contribute with goals and assists and in the middle with work and energy. Today I was able to score and I am very happy “, he added.
Madrid were hardly threatened by their opponents until the final minutes, when substitute Ferrán Torres reduced the deficit.
However, Rodrygo secured Madrid’s victory at penalty kick discount after a foul by Garcia against him.
“We had to play a complete game and we did it. It’s true that the beginning was good, we got ahead quite early and we controlled it well in the second half,” Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti said.
Madrid is now at the top of the table with 25 points, three more than Barça.