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Real Madrid go top after Alaba screamer helps earn clásico victory at Barcelona

·2 min read
<span>Photograph: Albert Gea/Reuters</span>
Photograph: Albert Gea/Reuters

David Alaba has become only the fifth player to mark their first clásico appearance with a goal, opening the scoring before Lucas Vázquez made it safe against bitter rivals Barcelona at the Camp Nou. Sergio Agüero scored in the dying moments in response for the hosts.

The flying Austrian heaped more misery on Ronald Koeman, starting a swift counterattack that began just outside his own area before hurtling forward on the left. Rodrygo, receiving a cross-field ball in the home half, let Karim Benzema overlap to his right, and instead found Alaba in plenty of space on the left, where he smashed in a clean left-footed strike across Barça goalkeeper Marc-André ter Stegen.

Related: Barcelona v Real Madrid: La Liga, el clásico – live!

“That goal was decisive,” said Barcelona midfielder Sergio Busquets. “In games like this, whoever scores first has a big advantage. Games are decided in the area, and we were not effective today.”

Koeman had warned his players they needed to be more effective when controlling the ball possession and that stopping Real’s speed on the counter would be decisive but that proved easier in theory than practice.

Barça managed to get the ball into dangerous positions around Real’s box but they lacked the final pass. At the other end, Vinícius Jr’s speed and power the home defence scrambling time after time. The Brazilian almost scored twice in the span of five minutes. He first dribbled past two players and fell inside the area after contact with Jordi Alba but he was denied a penalty while he was also denied another opportunity when the linesman signalled offside with Ter Stegen beaten.

Barcelona wasted their biggest opportunity of the first half when Memphis Depay led a break and crossed to Sergiño Dest, who was unmarked in the box but he volleyed the ball into the stands.

Koeman brought on Philippe Coutinho at half-time while strikers Agüero and Luuk de Jong were also sent on in the second half as they vainly sought an equaliser. Real kept persisting with the long balls to Vinícius, who left the game exhausted late on for Marco Asensio.

Four minutes into a lengthy spell of stoppage time, another Real counter ended with Vázquez pouncing on a rebound from close range after Asensio forced Ter Stegen into a fine save.

Shortly before the final whistle, Agüero reduced his side’s deficit, converting a Dest cross. The result took Real top of La Liga, level on points with Sevilla and Real Sociedad. Sociedad, however, can retake first when they visit fifth-placed Atlético Madrid in the league’s late game on Sunday.

Barcelona, meanwhile, are down in eighth and could end the weekend in ninth if Real Betis beat Rayo Vallecano in the 5.30pm BST KO.

More to follow

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