Photo: Real Madrid vs. Barcelona (Real Madrid)
Real Madrid scored its second victory in a week over arch-rival FC Barcelona, snagging a 2-1 win here Saturday in the Spanish league “clasico” thanks to a late header by Sergio Ramos.
Four days after a 3-1 home loss to Real Madrid in the Copa del Rey semifinals, Barça seemed early on to be playing in slow motion and snared in the defensive web spun by Jose Mourinho’s squad, which started the game without star striker Cristiano Ronaldo.
Real Madrid opened the scoring in the sixth minute when Karim Benzema received a pass from Alvaro Morata and found the back of the net from 10 feet away.
Barcelona, however, didn’t take long to get the equalizer.
Dani Alves located superstar Lionel Messi, who broke free from defender Sergio Ramos and then fired a shot past goalkeeper Diego Lopez in the 18th minute.
Fourteen minutes later, Messi had a chance after a failed attempt by Madrid to clear the ball from its area, but he fired the shot directly at Lopez.
After that missed opportunity, the apparently fatigued Argentine was a relative non-factor the rest of the contest.
In the second half, Ronaldo came on 12 minutes in as a substitute and made his presence felt soon afterward, firing a swerving free kick at the 64-minute mark that was corralled by Victor Valdes.
Madrid then started controlling possession against the Catalans and it paid off in the 81st minute when a corner kick from Luka Modric found Ramos, who headed a shot past Valdes into the right corner of the goal.
The waning seconds of the game featured a controversial non-call, when Ramos appeared to foul Barça midfielder Adriano in the 90th minute as he was preparing to shoot but no whistle was blown.
Despite the loss, Barcelona still holds a 12-point advantage over second-place Atletico Madrid and leads Real Madrid by 13 points in the Spanish league.
On Tuesday, Real Madrid advanced to the Copa del Rey final by defeating Barcelona 4-2 on aggregate, and will play Atletico Madrid in the final.