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El Clasico: Real Madrid storm past Barcelona, into serious title contention (video)

Real Madrid scored a pair of first-half goals and held on down the stretch for a 2-1 victory over Barcelona in the latest edition of El Clasico amid near-monsoon-like conditions at the Estadio Alfredo Di Stefano on Saturday.

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Barcelona were a virtually nonexistent side in the first half, only coming to life after halftime at which point they tried to stage a brave comeback but fell a goal short.

The victory sends Real Madrid top of the table, ahead of Atletico Madrid, who are yet to play this weekend, on head-to-head results. Barcelona, on the other hand, fall from 2nd to 3rd and could find themselves as many as four points off the summit by Sunday’s end.

Karim Benzema opened the scoring in the 14th minute with a sensational backheel flick to redirect a cross from Lucas Vazquez into the back of the net. Barcelona’s lack of mobility and ball-winning ability was on full display, as Federico Valverde carved through the middle of the field before releasing Vazquez into acres of space where he could provide the simple service.

Real Madrid’s second goal was highly fortuitous, partially coming at the expense of USMNT defender Sergiño Dest. Toni Kroos’ free kick ricocheted off the back of Dest as he leapt in the air as part of the wall 10 yards in front of goal. From that close-range distance, Marc-Andre ter Stegen had no chance of recovering and scrambling the other way.

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15 minutes into the second half, Barcelona got their goal out of seemingly nothing, because it was Oscar Mingueza whose late run into the penalty area ended with the 21-year-old defender hammering home Jordi Alba’s cross.

Saturday marked a seventh straight Clasico without a goal for Lionel Messi, who might have just played his final game in the storied rivalry. Whether or not Messi will leave or stay at Barcelona will be the first major domino which could trigger a series of transfers all around Europe.

Follow @AndyEdMLS

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