Neymar nets goal versus Madrid in ‘Clasico’ win

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Neymar nets goal versus Madrid in ‘Clasico’ win

BARCELONA, Spain - Neymar scored in his first “Clasico” and set up Alexis Sanchez for an exquisite decider as Barcelona beat Real Madrid 2-1 at Camp Nou in the Spanish league on Saturday.

With Lionel Messi oddly quiet, Neymar opened in the 19th minute from close range after receiving Andres Iniesta’s pass as the Brazil striker outshone fellow newcomer and rival Gareth Bale.

While Neymar lived up to his 57-million-euro ($78.7 million) transfer this summer, questions over the wisdom of Madrid’s 100-million-euro payout for Bale will continue after he failed to produce a shot on goal before being replaced by Karim Benzema with half an hour to go.

Benzema hit the woodwork before Alexis took Neymar’s pass and sealed the victory in the 78th minute with a brilliant chipped shot.

Substitute Jese Rodriguez got Madrid’s consolation goal in injury time after a lightning counterattack.

The victory was Barcelona’s ninth to go with one lone draw in the league this season, lifting it a provisional four points clear of Atletico Madrid, which hosts Real Betis on Sunday.

Madrid was left a full six points adrift of the pacesetters and with reawakened doubts over the direction of the team under new coach Carlo Ancelotti after losses to both its league challengers. It lost 1-0 to Atletico last month.

Bale made his second start of the season since being hampered by muscle injuries, but he didn’t prove to be effective in attack with Cristiano Ronaldo.

Ancelotti further tweaked his starting 11 with Sergio Ramos into midfield, while Barcelona’s Gerardo Martino chose Cesc Fabregas to accompany Messi and Neymar in attack.

Neymar struck the ball into the arms of Madrid goalkeeper Diego Lopez in the game’s first shot on goal in the 17th.

The strike was only a warning of what was to come two minutes later when Iniesta dribbled into the area and laid off for Neymar on the left flank.

Madrid appeared to have him hemmed in, but the 21-year-old Brazilian used his right foot to slip a shot between the legs of Dani Carvajal, with the ball taking a deflection off the defender’s thigh before trickling into the far side of the net.

AP

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