In what will be a Spanish Super Cup match that will be talked about for years, Real Madrid walked out of the Camp Nou with a 3-1 first leg win over Barcelona on Sunday night.
An early second-half own goal from Gerard Pique got Real on the scoreboard first, before Lionel Messi drew Barcelona level with a 77th minute penalty conversion.
But Los Blancos showed their championship pedigree with two scores in the final 10 minutes, the first coming from Cristiano Ronaldo, who came off the bench and silenced the Camp Nou with the winner in the 80th minute. Marco Asensio then capped the impressive performance with a sizzling strike in the 90th minute.
Just like any Clasico though, there was drama aplenty, and it centred on Ronaldo. While the Portuguese did score the match-winner, he was also sent off minutes later for a dive, which was his second yellow card of the night. A subsequent push of the referee could mean that Real are without their talisman for the season opener next week.
Real’s starting XI was more significant for whom who was not included, as for the second straight match Cristiano Ronaldo started from the bench. Meanwhile, new Barcelona boss Ernesto Valverde repeated the same 11 that took the pitch last Monday against Chapecoense.
It was a cagey initial half-hour between the two sides, with no quality chances for Los Blancos while a Lionel Messi free kick was Barcelona’s best look at goal. Things did not take on a true Clasico feel until Casemiro took down Messi with a dangerous foul, prompting plenty of pushing, shoving and finger-pointing.
Real were at their best any time Isco had the ball at his feet, and the crafty midfielder set up Gareth Bale with the visitors’ best chance of the half, but Barcelona goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen’s reaction save kept the match scoreless.
With such talented players in attack it was a near impossibility for these two teams to go 90 minutes scoreless, and so it was no surprise to see a goal come five minutes into the first-half. However, the source was of the score was an unlikely one, as Gerard Pique deflected a deep Marcelo cross into his own net to give Real a 1-0 lead.
The goal opened things up, and Barcelona looked to respond and were presented with their best chance of the night, but Messi was unable to redirect in Gerard Deulofeu’s cross. Back at the other end a Karim Benzema cross that reached Dani Carvajal at the back post looked destined for the back of the net, but Jordi Alba’s last-gasp block saved Barcelona’s hide.
It started raining whistles just shy of the hour mark when Zinedine Zidane made his first change of the evening, bringing on Ronaldo for Benzema, while for Barcelona Deulofeu yielded his spot to Denis Suarez.
Barcelona kept the pressure up in hopes of finding an equaliser but Real smartly fended off the hosts’ attacks and were content to concede corner kicks, which is hardly a strength for the Catalonians.
But Barcelona were also leaving themselves exposed in the back and Marcelo should have done better on a counterattack after some fine work from Isco, but the Brazilian full-back shot straight at Ter Stegen.
With each minute that ticked away the intensity grew, and the despair inside the Camp Nou could be felt when Sergio Busquets managed to waste a gilt-edged chance by sending a ball to the heavens when he was just 12 metres out.
Fortunately for Busquets, some good fortune came Barcelona’s way minutes later when referee De Burgos Bengoetxea pointed to the spot after Luis Suarez was brought down deep in the area by goalkeeper Keylor Navas. Up stepped Messi to take the penalty and the Argentine coolly converted to make it 1-1.
The drama was just starting. Barcelona were keen to find a winner, but Ronaldo had other ideas and the Portuguese superstar galloped onto an Isco pass, cut inside past Pique and rifled in past Ter Stegen to give Real a 2-1 advantage. Ronaldo delighted in making the Camp Nou miserable and ripped off his shirt in celebration.
Things then took a turn for the surreal when Ronaldo and Umtiti collided at the tip of the Barcelona area. Ronaldo howled for a penalty, but for De Burgos Bengoetxea it was a dive and an incredulous Ronaldo watched as he was shown a second yellow card and was sent off. The Portuguese reacted by shoving De Burgos Bengoetxea, which will surely draw some sort of suspension from Spanish football officials.
There was still a match to finish, however, and with the man advantage Barcelona edged close to a second, but the always lethal Marco Asensio once again came up big for Real and polished off a counter-attack with an absolute rocket that beat Ter Stegen and gave Real the 3-1 victory.
The two teams will renew acquaintances in Madrid on Wednesday in the second leg
1.- Barcelona: Ter Stegen; Alba, Umtiti, Pique, Aleix Vidal; Iniesta (Sergi Roberto, min. 68), Busquets, Rakitic; Deulofeu (Denis Suarez, min. 58), Messi, Suarez.
3.- Real Madrid: Keylor; Carvajal, Ramos, Varane, Marcelo; Casemiro, Kroos, Kovacic (Asensio, min. 68), Isco; Bale, Benzema (Ronaldo, min. 58).
Goals: 0-1, min. 50: Pique (og); 1-1, min. 77: Messi (p); 1-2, min. 80: Ronaldo; 1-3, min. 90: Asensio.
Referee: De Burgos Bengoetxea (Basque Country).
Yellow Cards: Casemiro (Min. 20) for Real Madrid, Pique (Min. 27) for Barcelona, Busquets (Min. 40) for Barcelona, Carvajal (Min. 42) for Real Madrid, Busquets (Min. 57) for Barcelona, Ronaldo (Min. 80) for Real Madrid, Ronaldo (Min. 82) for Real Madrid.
Red cards: Ronaldo (Min. 82) for Real Madrid.
Stadium: Camp Nou.