BARCELONA: Goals in each half from David Alaba and Lucas Vazquez saw Real Madrid win 2-1 at Barcelona in the first Clasico after the Messi/Ronaldo era.
Alaba – making his Clasico debut – opened the scoring after 32 minutes with a thumping long-range strike, before Vazquez doubled the visitors’ lead in second-half stoppage time.
Despite Sergio Aguero coming off the bench to score a late consolation for Barcelona on his Clasico debut too, Madrid hung on to hand Carlo Ancelotti his first managerial win at the Nou Camp.
As a result, Real went top of La Liga on goal difference from Sevilla and Real Sociedad, who travel to Atletico Madrid on Sunday night, while Barca stay eighth.
If there was a strange feeling in the Catalan air ahead of kick-off in the first Clasico of the La Liga season, it was probably because this was the first match between these two archrivals not featuring either Lionel Messi or Sergio Ramos since 2004.
All of which may have explained the lacklustre first half an hour, the standout moment being Sergino Dest’s horror miss after seemingly being laid a goal on his plate after good work down the left by Memphis Depay.
Maybe that lucky escape woke Real up, with the visitors taking the lead moments later after a fabulous breakaway goal involving Alaba, who won back possession on the edge of his own box, before Vinicius Junior and Rodrygo took the move into Barca’s half.
However, Alaba still had much to do after being picked out by Rodrygo’s incisive pass, with the Austria international finding the top righthand corner of the net with a swerving drive from the edge of the box.
Real deserved their half-time lead, although Gerard Pique was inches away from heading the hosts level from a corner 10 minutes before the break, with Barcelona manager Ronald Koeman then deciding to introduce former Liverpool star Philippe Coutinho at the interval.
The second period was cagey, with Madrid largely playing on the counter as they went in search of a second goal, which the outstretched Karim Benzema very nearly provided with 18 minutes to go.
Koeman then thew on another ex-Premier League star in Aguero, but it was Real who got the crucial next goal in injury time after another pacy break involving substitute Marco Asensio, whose low shot across the goal was only partially kept out by Marc-Andre ter Stegen at full stretch, allowing Vasquez a simple tap in at the far post.
Aguero was on hand to side-foot home Dest’s low centre for his first-ever Clasico goal, but it was too little, too late as far as Koeman and Barca were concerned as the Dutchman became only the second manager in history to lose his first three Clasicos.