Real Madrid sealed a 3-1 victory over fierce rivals Barcelona in the first Clasico of the 2020-21 campaign on Saturday afternoon.
No supporters were present inside Camp Nou due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic but football fans all over the world were still treated to a thrilling encounter between the two Spanish heavyweights.
A dramatic start to the Clasico saw Fede Valverde put Madrid 1-0 up in the fifth minute. The midfielder produced an emphatic finish past Neto after being picked out by Karim Benzema.
But the visitors’ lead lasted just three minutes. Ansu Fati, who doesn’t turn 18 until next week, continued his eye-catching start to the season with a finish from close range.
Sergio Ramos then restored Madrid’s one-goal lead on the hour mark courtesy of a controversial penalty, while Luka Modric added a late third, to earn Zinedine Zidane's side all three points.
Barça went into the match as favourites but the hosts found themselves 1-0 down early on thanks to Valverde’s excellent goal.
The Uruguay international capitalised on some lapse defending to put Los Blancos ahead in style.
However, Ansu’s strike shorty afterwards levelled the scores.
Lionel Messi’s pass freed Jordi Alba, whose cross was tapped home past Thibaut Courtois by the hugely-talented teenage forward.
Both Karim Benzema and Messi spurned good opportunities to put their respective teams ahead before the half-time whistle.
And the third goal of the afternoon arrived in controversial circumstances.
Clement Lenglet was penalised for bringing Ramos down inside the box - although replays showed the Real Madrid captain made the most of the contact.
Despite this, VAR awarded Zidane’s side a spot-kick and Ramos made no mistake, cooly slotting into the bottom corner past Neto.
The defender has now converted each of his last 25 penalties - including shoot-outs - according to Spanish football statistician @2010MisterChip.
Modric, on as a second-half substitute, then added gloss to the scoreline by adding a late third goal for Madrid.
Messi's face after the third goal went in said it all...
This is a hugely important victory for Zidane, who was reportedly under pressure heading into this weekend's Clasico following back-to-back defeats against Cadiz and Shakhtar Donetsk.
As for Ronald Koeman, there's plenty of work for the recently-appointed Barcelona head coach to do.
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