Real Madrid overpowered Barcelona in its El Clasico matchup by 3-1 held at Camp Nou, giving Los Blancos manager Zinedine Zidane an ease of pressure ahead of the season.
Madrid had an early 5th-minute lead thanks to Federico Valverde’s opener, but Barcelona’s 17-year-old Ansu Fati quickly tied things up three minutes later as he redirected Jordi Alba’s cross to the doorstep, making him the youngest player to score in the Barcelona vs. Real Madrid fixture in the 21st century at just 17 years and 359 days old.
The first half was a thrilling affair as Thibaut Courtois made a nice save from Lionel Messi, but the second half delivered more intensity between the two rivals.
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Sergio Ramos scored his 99th goal for Real Madrid at the penalty and left Ronald Koeman cursing VAR and facing a crisis as Barcelona coach already, while a late Luka Modric goal finished Barcelona.
“I hope one day they can explain to me how VAR works in Spain,” said Koeman. “We have played five games and it has only intervened against Barcelona, never in our favour.”
Zidane was under pressure at the helm after back-to-back losses acquired from Cadiz and Shakhtar Donetsk, but Madrid moved top of La Liga after this El Clasico win.
And he also mentioned he had no interest in trying to respond to critics as he praised his side’s ability to break down their rivals.
“I don’t know if [the criticism towards us] was fair or not,” Zidane said, via Marca. “What I can say is that I’m proud of my team. We’ve done it against a team that always causes you problems.
“We had to [call on Thibaut] Courtois twice, but we also had chances to score four goals. In the end, I’m happy at getting three points here. We have to enjoy it after all the comments that were made about us. Arsenal
“We’re not here to shut people up. We’re here to do it our way and to believe in what we do. That’s what we’ve done. I’m very proud of what we’ve done, defending compactly and then attacking with space.”
VAR had a major say in the third goal of the night, with referee Juan Martinez Munuera pointing to the penalty spot after a review deemed Clement Lenglet to have fouled Ramos. Despite the goal having a major say in the result, Zidane claimed his side would have won even without it.
“There’s a referee and he went to look at the incident and gave a penalty,” Zidane added. “I never talk about referees and I’m not going to start today. Aside from this moment, we deserved the win [anyway]. We won 3-1 and we could’ve scored more, although Barcelona had chances of their own.”