Karim Benzema, Federico Valverde and Rodrygo were all on target as a dominant Real Madrid beat old rivals Barcelona 3-1 at home in ‘El Clasico’ on Sunday to move top of La Liga.
The defeat was another blow to Barca and manager Xavi Hernandez after they were left on the verge of Champions League elimination following a draw with Inter Milan in midweek.
Real are now on top of the standings on 25 points, three ahead of Barca.
Real boss Carlo Ancelotti said on eve of the game that he was not going to reinvent the wheel as he sought to avoid a repeat of the result between the sides in March, when he put midfielder Luka Modric up front only to get hammered 4-0 by the Catalans.
There were no surprises in his line-up as he left it to his Barca counterpart Xavi to get inventive.
He left midfielder Gavi on the bench and, aware of the danger that in-form Vinicius Jr presented from the left wing, decided to start Sergi Roberto as a full-back on the right and rush back defender Jules Kounde, who has recently been nursing a hamstring injury, to cover the Brazilian.
But Barca had no answer to Vinicius Jr’s relentless pace and Toni Kroos’ precise passes for Real and both were the architects of several chances, including the first two goals.
The pair combined with nice one-touch passes in the build-up to Benzema’s opener with the France striker finishing into the empty goal on the rebound, after goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen denied Vinicius from close range in the 12th minute.
Ten minutes before the break, Vinicius took advantage of a mistake by defender Eric Garcia to run towards the area and create space for Valverde who – unmarked on the edge of the box – slotted a bullet strike past the goalkeeper.
Other than two early strikes by Frenkie de Jong and Raphinha, Real were barely threatened by their opponents until the final minutes, when substitute Ferran Torres reduced the deficit with a close-range strike from Robert Lewandowski’s low cross.
However, Rodrygo secured the points from the penalty spot in added time, after he was tripped inside the area by Garcia.
The referee did not give the foul at first, but was alerted by the VAR and, after checking the video, gave Real the penalty.
“We are delighted not only for the win but for the way we played, it was an amazing afternoon in a packed stadium with our fans creating a fantastic vibe,” Modric told DAZN.
“We knew that there was going to come a time in the match where we were going to have to suffer because they handle the ball well and that is where we have to defend strongly and suffer and we have done it.
“Then we were very strong up front, and we are very happy with the match. We have made a great game today.”
Neymar brilliance as PSG beat Marseille
Neymar was close to his brilliant best as he gave Paris Saint-Germain a 1-0 home victory against bitter rivals Marseille as the champions ended a three-match winless streak.
Neymar found the back of the net on the stroke of half-time to put leaders PSG on 29 points from 11 games, three ahead of second-placed Lorient.
Marseille, who had Sauel Gigot sent off midway through the second half, are fourth on 23 points, one behind RC Lens who they host next weekend. PSG had drawn their previous three games in all competitions.
Earlier on Sunday, Lyon’s winless run stretched to six matches after they suffered a 3-2 defeat at Rennes in their first match under new coach Laurent Blanc.
Martin Terrier scored twice for Rennes who registered their third straight league win and moved up two spots to fifth on 21 points.
Lyon, who appointed former France defender Blanc to replace Peter Bosz, have lost five of their last six games and slipped to 10th on 14 points.
Union outclass Dortmund with Haberer double
Union Berlin’s Janik Haberer scored twice in 13 minutes as the Bundesliga leaders cruised past Borussia Dortmund 2-0 on Sunday to open up a five-point gap at the top of the league table.
Haberer first pounced when Dortmund keeper Gregor Kobel miskicked the ball, to tap in from close range in the eighth minute and then drilled in another with a powerful shot from the edge of the box in the 21st minute.
Dortmund’s backline was leaking like a sieve in the first half and the visitors were lucky to go into the break with just a two-goal deficit as Union’s Sheraldo Becker wreaked havoc down the wing.
They improved after the break and Kobel redeemed himself for his first-half error with a full-stretch save to stop a Timo Baumgartl header but they completely lacked ideas in attack to threaten the hosts.
Bayern Munich blasted five goals past hapless Freiburg in a 5-0 demolition job to leapfrog them into second place.
The champions are now on 19 points, one ahead of third-placed Freiburg, who suffered their second league loss, and four behind leaders Union Berlin.
Bayern, who squandered a two-goal lead in a 2-2 draw with Dortmund last week, quickly showed they meant business with Serge Gnabry heading in on the rebound after Freiburg keeper Mark Flekken had parried a close-range shot by Leroy Sane in the 13th minute.
The champions hogged possession and gradually upped the pressure with forward Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting doubling their lead after shaking off Matthias Ginter and threading a low shot inside the far post for his first league goal of the season.
Freiburg, whose only previous league loss was back in August, hardly got a look in and did not get a shot on target in the entire first half.
It was much of the same after the break with Bayern hitting the woodwork through Gnabry six minutes after the restart.
Sane did a better job a minute later, whipping in a superb left-footed shot past Flekken to make it 3-0 before Sadio Mane’s chip over the keeper in the 55th killed off the game.
Marcel Sabizter’s 80th-minute shot completed Bayern’s rout.
Unstoppable Napoli back on top with win over Bologna
Napoli returned to the top of Serie A after beating Bologna 3-2 thanks to a late Victor Osimhen goal on Sunday to lead the table by two points although the visitors made them fight for the win.
Napoli now have 10 wins in a row in all competitions and are on top of the table with 26 points after 10 games just ahead of Atalanta, with Lazio and Udinese level on 21 points.
Bologna striker Joshua Zirkzee opened the scoring in the 41st minute when he received a pass from Andrea Cambiaso inside the box and fired into the bottom right-hand corner of the net.
But the lead did not last long as Juan Jesus equalised four minutes later at the Diego Armando Maradona Stadium.
Both teams played an intense second half, with Hirving Lozano putting the hosts ahead in the 49th minute. Musa Barrow equalised two minutes after that with a shot from a distance that Napoli goalkeeper Alex Meret fumbled into the goal.
Substitute Osimhen got what proved to be the winner in the 69th minute when he collected a through ball from Khvicha Kvaratskhelia and elegantly lobbed keeper Lukasz Skorupski.
Goals by striker Lautaro Martinez and midfielder Nicolo Barella helped Inter Milan ease to a comfortable 2-0 home win over Salernitana.
Inter, last season’s runners-up, moved up one place to seventh in the standings on 18 points. They are one point behind AS Roma and two adrift of fifth-placed AC Milan who have a game in hand and play at Verona later on Sunday.
Inter opened the scoring in the 14th minute through Lautaro, who lashed a shot from outside the box and the ball bounced in front of Salernitana keeper Luigi Sepe before finding the bottom corner.
Barella doubled the hosts’ advantage at the San Siro in the 58th minute, controlling the ball superbly in the box and placing a shot into the bottom right corner.
Lazio coach Maurizio Sarri said the bad condition of the pitch at the Stadio Olimpico played a significant role in the 0-0 draw against visiting Udinese.
Lazio had won their previous four league matches, scoring 14 goals with none conceded, but fired blanks against Udinese.
Sandro Tonali’s late goal sealed a 2-1 win for Italian champions AC Milan at Hellas Verona.
The visitors went ahead after nine minutes when Verona’s Miguel Veloso deflected Rafael Leao’s cross into his own net.
Verona deservedly equalised after 19 minutes when Koray Gunter’s weak shot deflected off Milan defender Matteo Gabbia which took it beyond keeper Ciprian Tatarusanu.
Milan secured the win in the 81st minute when Ante Rebic found Tonali alone in the box with a perfect ball across and he had no trouble finishing past keeper Lorenzo Montipo.