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SPANISH SUPER CUP

Barcelona 1 - 3 Real Madrid: as it happened, goals, match report


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Barcelona 1 - 3 Real Madrid: as it happened, goals, match report
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Barcelona 1 - 3 Real Madrid: match report

Real Madrid will return to the Santiago Bernabéu in the ascendancy after a Spanish Super Cup first leg that crackled in to life after half time. It was a memorable night for Cristiano Ronaldo, who came on as a second-half substitute, scored a sumptuous goal, and was promptly sent off for two bookable offences. Ronaldo’s protagonism was such that a Piqué own goal, a contentious Barcelona penalty, and an arrowed screamer from Asensio all assumed supporting roles.

Before the match at Camp Nou, there was a sense that Barcelona needed to stem the flow of momentum towards the Spanish capital. The two clubs find themselves on opposite trajectories, with Barça reeling from the loss of Neymar, and Madrid a portentous force under Zidane. On the evidence of this evening, that momentum continues to edge inland.

The first half was stale; a pale, skinny version of the enthralling match between the two sides in Miami earlier in the summer. Luis Suárez had the best chance of the half, taking down a lofted pass from Iniesta like a feather, before firing a left-footed shot down the throat of Keylor Navas. As the game strolled towards the break, Ernesto Valverde would have been content with the first 45 minutes of his tenure as Barcelona manager. It was unspectacular, but it was solid. In the second half, that would change.

Real Madrid drew first blood five minutes after the restart. Marcelo, like a rampant bull on the left flank, fizzed a ball across the face of goal. Gerard Piqué stretched to make contact, and succeeded only in looping the ball oven open-mouthed Ter Stegen, and in to the bottom corner. Piqué sat on the turf, glum, disconsolate.

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Just before the hour mark, Ronaldo entered the stage. He soon put himself front and centre, attempting an acrobatic effort from Gareth Bale’s cross when a header would have sufficed. Bale, for his part, continued his anonymity from pre-season.

After 78 minutes, Barça were fortuitously granted a chance to level the match. Suárez skipped towards the byline and, expectant of contact from the onrushing Navas, hurled himself to the ground. Referee De Burgos, officiating his first Clásico, pointed to the spot. It was harsh, but Suárez took advantage of Navas’ clumsiness. Messi exhaled, stepped up, and rolled the ball in to the corner.

The parity was short lived. Two minutes later, Isco, the lubricant to this Madrid machine, found Cristiano Ronaldo on the left. He took the ball under his control, shifted on to his right foot, and curled a wonderfully-shaped shot in to the top corner. He tore off his shirt and flexed his muscles, a serious expression on his face.

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A dose of hubris soon arrived, accompanied by the challenge of Samuel Umtiti. The two tussled for the ball in the box, and Ronaldo tumbled. It was not a penalty, but nor was it a dive. The two went should to shoulder, and the Frenchman was stronger. The referee saw it as simulation, and reached to his pocket for a second yellow card. Ronaldo responded by shoving De Burgos, a reaction he will almost certainly be punished for. 

It would have been fitting for that act to be the curtain closer, but Marco Asensio’s goal on the counter-attack secured Madrid’s advantage with blistering pace and breathtaking quality. It was a goal worthy of superlative. Asensio allowed the ball to roll across his body before unleashing a fierce shot in to Ter Stegen’s near top corner. It scudded off the crossbar before settling in the net.

The Super Cup will not be decided until Wednesday evening at the Bernabéu, but Real Madrid have it by the scuff of the neck.

Barcelona 1 - 3 Real Madrid: El Clasico as it happened

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