Neymar shines in Barca win
"> Barcelona's Brazilian star Neymar (C) is mobbed by teammates after he has scored the crucial opening goal in his El Clasico debut against Real Madrid at the Nou Camp yesterday. Photo: AFP
Neymar stole the show from the likes of Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale when the Brazilian's strike set Barcelona on the way to a 2-1 win over Real Madrid in Saturday's 'Clasico' at the Nou Camp.
In a La Liga match watched by millions around the world, Barca landed a blow in the title race when Neymar scored a clinical goal in the 19th minute before substitute Alexis Sanchez netted with a brilliant chip 11 minutes from time in the 167th league meeting between the bitter rivals.
Jese came off the bench to pull a goal back in the first minute of added time but it was little more than a consolation for Real, who were outplayed for long periods and slip six points behind the champions with 10 matches played.
Neymar opened the scoring when he collected the ball from Andres Iniesta on the left of the penalty area and cut inside on to his right foot, with his low shot taking a slight deflection off Real fullback Dani Carvajal before zipping past goalkeeper Diego Lopez into the far corner of the net.
Real battled hard in the second half and Karim Benzema, who replaced Real's ineffective world record signing Bale on the hour, smashed a shot against the bar before Alexis scored with an exquisite chip over Lopez from just outside the area.
Unbeaten Barca's victory, their ninth in the league this season, puts them on 28 points ahead of third-placed Real at the top of the standings.
Second-placed Atletico Madrid are four points behind Barca ahead of their game at home to Real Betis on Sunday.
Bale's inclusion was not the only surprise amongst Ancelotti's starting line up as Sergio Ramos was also moved into an unfamiliar central midfield role.
The Welshman had Madrid's first effort on goal with a left-footed strike that sailed well over, but it was Barca who settled quicker as Real struggled to come to terms with Neymar's pace and trickery.
It was no surprise that it was the Brazilian who put Barca in front when he collected Andres Iniesta's pass inside the area and sneaked his shot from a narrow angle inside the far post with the aid of a slight deflection off Dani Carvajal.
The presence of Cesc Fabregas in the Barca side had forced Messi into an unusual position on the right side.
However, the Argentine should have doubled the lead two minutes later when he was released through on goal only to uncharacteristically slide the ball wide on his trusted left foot.
Bale then saw another wild effort from distance fly well over, but Madrid did finally create a clear opening two minutes before the break when Cristiano Ronaldo showed Dani Alves a clear pair of heels down the left and Sami Khedira's effort on the slide was brilliantly kept out by Victor Valdes.
Bale's miserable first-half was rounded off in stoppage time when he saw a yellow card for a high challenge on Gerard Pique.