Real Madrid moved top of LaLiga for the first time since November as goals from Karim Benzema and Toni Kroos sealed a 2-1 win over Barcelona in El Clasico.
Fresh from their Champions League quarter-final first-leg triumph over Liverpool, Zinedine Zidane’s side started in blistering fashion on Saturday and were two up inside the opening 30 minutes thanks to a sublime Benzema flick and deflected Kroos free-kick.
Oscar Mingueza set up a dramatic final half-hour with his second goal of the season and Casemiro was sent off in the 90th minute, but Madrid held on at a sodden Alfredo Di Stefano Stadium to seal a third consecutive win against Barca in all competitions for the first time since 1978.
The result means Los Blancos leapfrog Ronald Koeman’s side and neighbours Atletico Madrid to the league summit, although Diego Simeone’s men can reclaim top spot with just a draw against Real Betis on Sunday.
Benzema ended a run of nine appearances against Barca in all competitions without a goal – his longest such run against a single opponent as a Madrid player – in the 13th minute.
Federico Valverde released Lucas Vazquez down the right and his low cross was diverted into Marc-Andre ter Stegen’s bottom-left corner courtesy of a sumptuous backheel from the Frenchman on the edge of the six-yard box.
The hosts doubled their advantage after 28 minutes when Kroos’ 20-yard free-kick ended up in the back of the net via a combination of Sergino Dest’s back and Jordi Alba’s head.
Madrid almost made it three before the interval, but Valverde’s fizzing strike cannoned back off the post and Vazquez was unable to steer the follow-up past Ter Stegen.
A subdued Lionel Messi twice went close in first-half stoppage time when his corner floated over Thibaut Courtois and bounced back off the post, while the Belgium goalkeeper thwarted him at the back post from Ousmane Dembele’s corner.
Barca did halve the deficit on the hour mark, Mingueza prodding home from 10 yards after substitute Antoine Griezmann had cleverly dummied Jordi Alba’s cross.
Ronald Araujo diverted Vinicius Junior’s cross onto his own post soon after as Madrid threatened to restore their two-goal advantage.
Barca were adamant they should have had a penalty in the closing stages when Martin Braithwaite went down under a challenge from Ferland Mendy, but referee Jesus Gil Manzano was unmoved.
Casemiro received a second yellow card for a late challenge on Mingueza, before Ilaix Moriba rattled the crossbar with almost the last kick of the game as Madrid sealed a league double over their rivals for the first time since the 2007-08 season.