Goals from Neymar and second-half substitute Alexis Sanchez gave Barcelona a 2-1 win at home against arch rivals Real Madrid in the Camp Nou Stadium.
Jese Rodriguez scored a late consolation goal for Madrid, who may count themselves unlucky to return home empty handed after an excellent second-half performance on Saturday night, reports Xinhua.
Real Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti surprised everyone with his line-up, opting to play with central defender Sergio Ramos in midfield, Javier Carvajal at right back and Alvaro Arbeloa left on the subs’ bench, alongside Karim Benzema.
With Alvaro Morata left in the stand, Ancelotti opted to play without a specialised striker and instead Gareth Bale, Cristiano Ronaldo and Angel Di Maria formed a trio upfront.
There were no surprises in the Barca line-up, where Cesc Fabregas played in the false striker role and Gerard Pique, who had recovered from a pelvic injury, partnered Javier Mascherano in defence.
Madrid looked dangerous from set pieces with Carvajal crossing well for Bale to knock the ball down into the Barcelona box and was well-organised in midfield, happy to drop deep and deny Barca space.
However, in the 19th minute the Mardid players went to sleep, allowing Andres Iniesta to advance towards the edge of their penalty area before giving the ball to Neymar whose right foot shot from a narrow angle deflected past Diego Lopez and into the net.
Messi should have doubled the lead a minute later as he went clean through on goal, but Pepe put enough pressure on the Argentine for his shot to slide past the post.
The rest of the half saw Barca control the ball, but Madrid kept their shape and almost snatched a goal on the stroke of halftime. Ronaldo did well to work space on the left and crossed for the onrushing Sami Khedira, whose close range effort was well saved by Victor Valdes.
The second half was a different affair as Madrid pushed their lines forward and looked to put pressure on the hosts.
The Madrid pressure saw Iniesta lose the ball in his own half just before the hour and as Ronaldo’s pace carried him into a shooting position, Valdes pulled off another fine save to keep the scores level.
Madrid had good appeals for a penalty waved away with 20 minutes remaining as Mascherano looked to have given Ronaldo a push in the back.
Barca were looking ragged even as Madrid looked better balanced after Benzema replaced Bale. The Frenchman was unlucky to see his 25-yard shot bounce back off the underside of the crossbar.
That proved to be decisive as Alexis scored Barca’s second with 12 minutes remaining. His pace allowed him to turn Varane and chip Diego Lopez from 30 yards out.
The goal should have killed the game off, but Rodriguez took advantage of a late break started by Ronaldo to score a consolation goal for Madrid in injury time.