Barcelona 2-1 Real Madrid: Kessie’s late goal wins El Clasico bragging rights – and quite possibly La Liga
Franck Kessie’s stoppage-time goal marked several key moments in the history of this footballing giant. a 100th Clasico victory, a 3,000th La Liga goal and, perhaps most importantly, maintaining a 12-point advantage over their rivals with as many games to play in the title race.
That Barcelona will likely go on to reclaim the league crown, having leapt from the canvas after a turbulent off-field and transitional period that shows few signs of a real end, will taste just as sweet to the Catalans as it does. will be bitter for Los Blancos.
Indeed, given the backdrop of that derby which saw Real president Florentino Perez snubbing an appearance at the Camp Nou amid their claims over the Negreira affair, there was a degree of irony about the circumstances of their winner.
Marco Asensio thought he had made himself the hero ten minutes earlier, poaching a late goal to put Madrid 2-1 up despite a struggling performance from Carlo Ancelotti’s men – only for VAR to tag him (rightly) for out -game.
Real Madrid had been leading against the run of play after nine minutes when Vinicius Jr was fed by Eduardo Camavinga to dig in a cross from the boundary line, which deflected into the net via an unwitting header from Ronald Araujo and the inside of the post.
It was a shocking moment for Barcelona as they peppered Thibaut Courtois’ goal with effort, Raphinha and Andreas Christensen coming the closest to a leveler with the Dane launching an unmarked header into the net after 24 minutes.
Possession stats were even, but Real’s moments on the ball served as mere interludes in the pendulum swinging against them in this game.
For every flurry in the box Madrid mustered, only for Marc-Andre ter Stegen to easily claim, the hosts set up several dangerous moments – and finally had their reward at half-time.
Raphinha’s terrible overhead kick failed to kill Barcelona’s attack and the recycled ball led to an almighty scramble, finally punctured by Sergi Roberto’s powerful effort into the corner of Courtois’ goal.
Madrid continued to struggle to assert themselves after the break. Vinicius aside, they looked long and struggled to keep up with the flying winger, who lacked support from the conservative, lopsided setup that, to be fair, provided wide success to Carlo Ancelotti at the Bernabeu.
Robert Lewandowski should have put Barcelona ahead on the hour mark as he headed for the acrobatic finish when unmarked at the far post, warping his effort over the bar.
The last 20 minutes turned into an open and rambling affair which suited Real better. Dani Carvajal was given clearance to step forward and set up Asensio’s offside for an arrival that initially looked to have put Los Blancos back in the title picture.
Instead, it’s Barcelona who are destined for the trophy after Alejandro Balde broke down the left as stoppage time began to find Kessie at the far post, with the Ivorian scoring his first La Liga goal – and s inserting in the annulles of the history of the Clasico.