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Vinicius and Mariano breaks the deadlock to secure Blancos’ Clasico win

Vinicius Junior and Mariano Diaz scored as Real Madrid beat Barcelona 2-0 in El Clasico on Sunday to go a point clear of their rivals at the top of the La Liga table.

Barcelona had the better first-half chances and  Thibaut Courtois  saved well from Arthur and Lionel Messi .

Howver Real Madrid improved after half-time, as Isco had a curling shot tipped over by  Marc- Andre ter Steg and a header cleared off the line by Gerard Pique.

The opening goal came in the 71st minute,  Toni Kroos finding Vinicius on the left to shoot past Ter Stegen with the help of a deflection off Pique, before Mariano grabbed a second in added time to seal the win.

Positives

How long does it take to go from full-blown crisis to table-topping euphoria at Real Madrid? Ninety minutes plus stoppage time at the Bernabeu. When referee Antonio Mateu Lahoz blew the final whistle, this stadium erupted. A Clasico victory, and all is right in the world.

The title is not decided on March 1  there are 12 league games still to be played, and there will be more twists to come but this felt like more than just three points.

Madrid ended an appalling recent Clasico record – a first win in this fixture since 2017, ending a run of four Bernabeu victories for Barca and they did so with a hugely impressive second-half performance.

Negatives

Barcelona were the better team in the first half as they kept the ball to an extent rarely seen from a visiting team at the Bernabeu.

It was a reminder that Zinedine Zidane’s record against Quique Setien’s teams has been mixed a 3-3 draw with Las Palmas and two wins for his Real Betis stick in the memory  and before the interval Madrid struggled at times, with Courtois making some important saves.

Manager rating out of 10

Zidane made just two changes from the team that lost 2-1 to Manchester City in midweek.

One was no surprise at all  Kroos returned to midfield as expected but the selection of Marcelo  at left-back was a shock.

The Brazilian has spent most of the season out of form but did not look out of place on the night, justifying Zidane’s pick.

The coach’s decision to leave out Luka Jovic  entirely and pick Mariano was vindicated too, with the striker coming off the bench in added time to score Madrid’s second.

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