Frank Casey scored a stoppage-time winner to give Barcelona a 2-1 win over Real Madrid in Sunday’s Clasico at Camp Nou and a massive 12-point lead over second-placed Real Madrid with 12 games remaining in the La Liga season.
A free Ronald Araujo own goal put Real Madrid ahead in just the ninth minute but Sergi Roberto’s composed finish saw Barcelona claim a deserved equalizer on the stroke of half-time.
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Real Madrid thought they had a potentially crucial winner with nine minutes remaining when substitute Marco Asensio turned in Dani Carvajal’s cross. However, after a lengthy VAR review, it was ruled that Asensio was initially in an offside position.
Instead, they must maintain realistic hopes of overhauling their opponents’ La Liga lead as Madrid go in search of a winning goal, with KC sending the Camp Nou crowd into a frenzy with a cut-back from Alex Bald in the second minute of stoppage time. Wild with joy
Casey’s effort was only the third game-winning stoppage-time goal in El Clasico history and means Barcelona now have a comfortable 12-point cushion and within touching distance of a first title in four years.
With Pep Guardiola in attendance, Barcelona were aiming to win three Clasicos in a row for the first time since the now Manchester City boss was in charge at the Camp Nou in the 2011-12 season.
And they set out with the intention of achieving that victory. With high pressure and intense intensity, Barcelona overwhelmed Madrid in the opening minutes. Thibaut Courtois had to be at his best to keep out efforts from Robert Lewandowski and Rafinha while Sergi Roberto shot over the bar.
Within the first 10 minutes, the game had already seen more shots on goal than in the previous meeting between the two sides, which Barcelona won 1-0 in the first leg of the Copa del Rey semi-final earlier this month.
Just like in that game, though, it was an own goal that opened the scoring. Just barely, Vinicius Jr. chipped in a cross from near the left byline and Araujo found his head in the wrong place at the wrong time to turn the ball past Marc-Andre ter Stegen at his near post.
The goal was the first Barcelona have conceded from open play at home in La Liga this season and hampered their early momentum as Madrid gained confidence and composure.
But as the opening half drew to a close, Barcelona stepped up the pressure once more to go into half-time with the scores level.
Madrid did their best to keep the hosts at bay, but after Rafinha’s effort was well blocked the ball fell to Sergi Roberto, who side-footed perfectly to beat Courtois from 12 yards.
Both sides exchanged chances early in the second half, as Federico Valverde parried an effort wide for Madrid and Lewandowski shot just wide.
But Madrid needed more to win, and as the clock ticked past the hour mark, coach Carlo Ancelotti duly went to his substitutes bench to make two attacking substitutions — bringing on Rodrigo and Ferland Mendy for Toni Kroos and Nacho.
Almost immediately, Rodrigo had a golden opportunity to turn Madrid around. But after Sergio Busquets fired a clear shot at goal from the edge of the box, the young Brazilian fired his effort high over the crossbar.
As the game reached the final 10 minutes, Madrid went in search of a title-race changing goal. But, with the help of VAR, Barcelona survived before Casey made a late stab at Madrid’s hopes of retaining their title.