(AP) Neymar leads Barcelona to 2-1 win over Madrid
By JOSEPH WILSON
Neymar scored one goal and set up Alexis Sanchez’s winning chip shot in the 78th minute, carrying Barcelona past Real Madrid 2-1 in the first “clasico” since the defending champions added Neymar and Real signed Gareth Bale.
With Lionel Messi oddly quiet for Barcelona, Neymar opened the scoring in the 19th minute from close range after a pass from Andres Iniesta. Two minutes earlier, Neymar struck the ball into the arms of Madrid goalkeeper Diego Lopez with the game’s first shot.
Neymar received an ovation when he was substituted with six minutes to go after a match in which the Brazilian striker clearly outshone Bale.
Neymar joined Barcelona this offseason for $76 million, a player who could represent the team’s future in a distant post-Messi era. Bale, an attacking midfielder from Wales, signed with Real Madrid for a sum reported variously at $120 million and $132 million.
He failed to produce a shot on goal before being replaced by Karim Benzema with a half hour to go. Bale was limited to a pair of harmless long attempts that sailed high as Madrid failed to muster a shot on target until a minute before halftime.
Bale was making his second start of the season since being hampered by muscle injuries, but didn’t prove effective in attack with Cristiano Ronaldo.
Benzema hit the woodwork before Sanchez took Neymar’s pass and sealed the victory with an exquisite chip. Substitute Jese Rodriguez scored for Madrid in injury time on a counterattack.
Barcelona now has nine victories and one draw in the Spanish league, lifting it four points ahead of Atletico Madrid, which hosts Real Betis on Sunday.
Madrid is now six points back amid fresh doubts about the team under new coach Carlo Ancelotti following losses to both its league challengers. It lost 1-0 to Atletico last month.
“I think we showed good football in front of a fantastic team,” Ancelotti said after his first clasico. “Of course, we want to win this kind of game but at this moment it was a good test. We are improving.”