Ronaldo winner ends Barcelona’s 39-game unbeaten run

Real Madrid's Cristiano Ronaldo, left, drives the ball past Barcelona's Andres Iniesta during a Spanish La Liga soccer match between Barcelona and Real Madrid, dubbed 'el clasico', at the Camp Nou stadium in Barcelona, Spain, Saturday, April 2, 2016. (AP)

Cristiano Ronaldo struck the winner as 10-man Real Madrid came from behind to end Barcelona’s 39-game unbeaten run 2-1 in El Clasico at the Camp Nou on Saturday.

Gerard Pique’s towering header put the hosts in front on the night they honored legendary former player and Coach Johan Cruyff.

Barcelona's Lionel Messi, center, runs with the ball between Real Madrid's Toni Kroos, left and Casemiro during a Spanish La Liga soccer match between Barcelona and Real Madrid, dubbed 'el clasico', at the Camp Nou stadium in Barcelona, Spain, Saturday, April 2, 2016. (AP)

Barcelona's Lionel Messi, center, runs with the ball between Real Madrid's Toni Kroos, left and Casemiro during a Spanish La Liga soccer match between Barcelona and Real Madrid, dubbed 'el clasico', at the Camp Nou stadium in Barcelona, Spain, Saturday, April 2, 2016. (AP)

Yet, Karim Benzema quickly levelled before Ronaldo fired home five minutes from time after Madrid captain Sergio Ramos had seen the 21st red card of his career.

Victory reduces Barca’s lead over third-placed Madrid to seven points with seven games remaining.

Atletico Madrid closed the gap on the leaders to six points with a 5-1 thrashing of Real Betis earlier on Saturday.

“I liked everything from my players both defensively and offensively against a great team with very good players,” said Madrid boss Zinedine Zidane after a successful first Clasico in charge.

Real Madrid's Karim Benzema, center, celebrates after scoring his side’s first goal during a Spanish La Liga soccer match between Barcelona and Real Madrid, dubbed 'el clasico', at the Camp Nou stadium in Barcelona, Spain, Saturday, April 2, 2016. (AP)

Real Madrid's Karim Benzema, center, celebrates after scoring his side’s first goal during a Spanish La Liga soccer match between Barcelona and Real Madrid, dubbed 'el clasico', at the Camp Nou stadium in Barcelona, Spain, Saturday, April 2, 2016. (AP)

“When I see the team like this, fighting for their teammates, it is the best thing for a coach.”

There was an emotive homage to Cruyff before kick-off with over 90,000 fans holding up a display reading “Thank you Johan” alongside a Barca jersey with the number 14 the Dutch great adorned during his playing career.

Yet, it was a sad end to a spectacular run for the European champions as they tasted defeat for the first time since losing at Sevilla in October.

Real Madrid's Cristiano Ronaldo, left, scores his side’s second goal past Barcelona goalkeeper Claudio Bravo during a Spanish La Liga soccer match between Barcelona and Real Madrid, dubbed 'el clasico', at the Camp Nou stadium in Barcelona, Spain, Saturday, April 2, 2016. (AP)

Real Madrid's Cristiano Ronaldo, left, scores his side’s second goal past Barcelona goalkeeper Claudio Bravo during a Spanish La Liga soccer match between Barcelona and Real Madrid, dubbed 'el clasico', at the Camp Nou stadium in Barcelona, Spain, Saturday, April 2, 2016. (AP)

“Their first goal damaged us and disorientated us and caught us out of position,” said Barca coach Luis Enrique.

“One day it had to happen and it happened today. Now we have to prepare for the Champions League, rest and keep going.”

Barca started by far the better and only an incredible miss by Luis Suarez let Madrid off the hook on 10 minutes.

Neymar unselfishly squared for his Uruguayan strike partner, but Suarez failed to make any connection from his low cross with the goal at his mercy.

Barcelona's Ivan Rakitic, left, fights for the ball with Real Madrid's Cristiano Ronaldo during a Spanish La Liga soccer match between Barcelona and Real Madrid, dubbed 'el clasico', at the Camp Nou stadium in Barcelona, Spain, Saturday, April 2, 2016. (AP)

Barcelona's Ivan Rakitic, left, fights for the ball with Real Madrid's Cristiano Ronaldo during a Spanish La Liga soccer match between Barcelona and Real Madrid, dubbed 'el clasico', at the Camp Nou stadium in Barcelona, Spain, Saturday, April 2, 2016. (AP)

The hosts were enraged midway through the half when Lionel Messi looked to have been brought down by Ramos right on the edge of the area, but referee Alejandro Jose Hernandez waved play on with Ramos already having been booked.

Madrid grew into the game as the first half progressed and finally threatened the Barca goal when Ronaldo’s shot was beaten away by Claudio Bravo before Gareth Bale blazed a volley over from a narrow angle.

Barca started on the front foot again after the break and Navas made a brilliant save to prevent Messi’s cheeky chipped effort floating in at the far post.

Barcelona's Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez, right, leave the pitch at the end of a Spanish La Liga soccer match between Barcelona and Real Madrid, dubbed 'el clasico', at the Camp Nou stadium in Barcelona, Spain, Saturday, April 2, 2016. Real Madrid won 2-1. (AP)

Barcelona's Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez, right, leave the pitch at the end of a Spanish La Liga soccer match between Barcelona and Real Madrid, dubbed 'el clasico', at the Camp Nou stadium in Barcelona, Spain, Saturday, April 2, 2016. Real Madrid won 2-1. (AP)

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Last Update: Wednesday, 20 May 2020 KSA 09:50 - GMT 06:50
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