Luka Modric put the icing on the cake for Real Madrid as they battled to a 3-1 win over Barcelona in the first El Clasico for the season.
Despite the absence of the usual vociferous fans at Camp Nou on Saturday, the Clasico was nonetheless quite thrilling.
The tie, which was still even at 1-1 at the end of the first half produced all sorts of fireworks right from the blast of the whistle.
Fede Valverde fired the visitors in front in the fifth minute but it took Ronald Koeman’s side just three minutes to restore parity through teenage sensation and rave of the moment Ansu Fati.
— FC Barcelona (@FCBarcelona) October 24, 2020
Madrid started out as the stronger side in the early exchanges and it wasn’t surprising when Uruguayan midfielder Valverde fired them in front after receiving an inch-perfect pass from Karim Benzema which was cut wide open Barcelona’s fragile defence.
However, there was an impressive response from the hosts as Jordi Alba – returning to the side following an injury – found space down the left flank and cut it back for Fati to level the score.
From then on, it was end-to-end stuff as Lionel Messi came close to scoring for Barcelona and Benzema was also close to getting Real Madrid back in front but the goalkeepers at both ends were up and doing.
Coach Zinedine Zidane opted for an early substitution when he pulled off Nacho Fernandez – who had been booked – and replaced him with Lucas Vazquez just before the break.
Having witnessed a fascinating first 45 minutes, expectations were understandably high for a more explosive second half.
However, unlike the first half where two goals were scored inside nine minutes, the second half was more physical and required a penalty kick for Real Madrid to return in front.
Clement Lenglet was adjudged to have pulled Sergio Ramos on the shirt and the Real Madrid captain made no mistake scoring the resultant kick in the 63rd minute to make it 2-1 in favour of the visitors.
Hard as Messi and his teammates tried to find a way back into the game, it was Real Madrid that punished them again with a late goal from Modric, which sealed the victory in the first El Clasico for the season.