Real Madrid 2-1 Barcelona: Benzema scores again, as Los Blancos top the standings
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Real Madrid 2-1 Barcelona: Benzema scores again, as Los Blancos top the standings

With a 2-1 victory over their league rivals in Saturday night's El Clasico, Real Madrid shattered Barcelona's title hopes.

Both teams went into this weekend's match knowing that a loss would allow Atletico Madrid to pull away from them in the title race while also jeopardizing their own chances of winning the Primera Division this season.

Despite a promising start, Barcelona were undone just 13 minutes in when Lucas Vazquez bombed into space on the right flank and drilled a low cross towards the front post, where Karim Benzema tapped the ball into the net with the most delicate of flicks from his heel.

Just 15 minutes after the first goal, Madrid struck again when a set piece on the edge of the box allowed Toni Kroos to fire a shot towards goal.

Despite the fact that the Germany international's shot was on goal, Sergino Dest's deflection put it in the back of the net. 

Barcelona failed to break down their defensive opponents despite dominating possession and appeared sloppy in the final third, where Madrid counterattacked with pace and precision. At halftime, the hosts seemed to be holding on to their lead and in relative ease.

The second half was different though.

Following a clever dummy by Antoine Griezmann, the visitors eventually broke through when a hopeful cross from Jordi Alba hit the outstretched leg of Oscar Mingueza directly in front of the Madrid post. The defender did just enough to put the ball in the back of the net and give Lionel Messi and his teammates some hope.

Barcelona attempted to steal a late equalizer in utterly appalling circumstances for the remainder of the match, with the referee and Messi both forced to leave the field at various points to adjust their microphones or tops, respectively. Unfortunately, the factors, together with some shrewd Madrid defending, proved too much.

Of course, it wouldn't be an El Clasico without any late drama, and Martin Braithwaite was pulled down in the Madrid box by Ferland Mendy as the two players hunted down a loose ball. Despite the Barcelona players' protests, the referee remained unmoved.

Real Madrid kept on to all three points despite Barcelona hitting the post with practically the last kick of the game through Moriba.

Zidane's men have now climbed to the top of LaLiga, one point ahead of third-placed Barcelona.

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