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Real Madrid beat Barcelona in Clasico


Real Madrid have clung on for a 2-1 home victory over Barcelona that sent them to the summit of La Liga as Lionel Messi’s Clasico goal drought continued.

The victory in pouring rain in the Spanish capital left Madrid tied on points with Atletico Madrid, who on Sunday can return to the top when they visit sixth-place Real Betis.

Madrid are ahead of their city rival on the head-to-head tiebreaker.

Barcelona, who had been unbeaten in 19 straight league games, are one point off the lead.

Karim Benzema and Toni Kroos scored first-half goals to give Madrid a sixth straight win in all competitions.

Barcelona got on the board in the second half with a goal by Oscar Mingueza.

The nearly equalised with a shot from young substitute Ilaix Moriba that struck the crossbar in the final play of the match.

This was the first time Madrid have taken the league lead since the early rounds of the competition – they trailed Atletico by 11 points at one stage.

The result ended Barcelona’s six-match winning streak in the league.

The 33-year-old Messi, who reached seven straight clasicos without a goal, has his contract with Barcelona ending this season.

The Argentina star expressed desire to leave the Catalan club last year but had his request denied.

Messi was not the only Barca man struggling in front of goal as the visitors bossed possession – enjoying 69 per cent – but failed to make it count while Madrid looked a constant threat on the break in horrendous weather.

It was an even start at the Alfredo Di Stefano Stadium in Madrid’s training center, but the hosts opened the scoring in the 13th minute with Benzema’s superb flicked shot from close range after a low cross by Lucas Vazquez.

The French striker, who has scored 10 goals in his past nine matches, got in front of Barcelona defender Ronald Araujo and flicked the ball toward the net with his back foot.

Benzema hadn’t scored against Barcelona in nine consecutive clasicos.

Kroos added to the lead in the 28th from a free kick, with his effort deflecting off Barca defender Sergino Dest before going into the net.

Barcelona pulled one back in the 60th with a shot from inside the area by Mingueza after a low cross by Jordi Alba.

Madrid played the final minutes a man down after Casemiro was sent off with a second yellow card.

Madrid got the win despite a depleted defence – with the absences of central defenders Raphael Varane and Sergio Ramos.

Barcelona were without the injured Gerard Pique.

Elsewhere, Juan Cala, who last weekend was accused of racially insulting Valencia defender Mouctar Diakhaby, played from the start in Cadiz’s 1-0 win at Getafe.

Athletic Bilbao drew 0-0 at home with second-to-last Alaves.

The winless run of last-place Eibar reached 14 matches as they went down 1-0 to eighth-place Levante.

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