David Alaba and Lucas Vazquez got the goals as Real Madrid beat Barcelona 2-1 at Camp Nou on Sunday in the first El Clasico since the exit of Lionel Messi.
Alaba was on target in the 32nd minute with a wonderful shot from the left side of the area which Marc-Andre ter Stegen could not stop despite diving to his limit.
Alaba’s opener came minutes after American Sergino Dest wasted a great chance to put Barcelona ahead, sending his shot over the crossbar from the penalty spot.
“That goal was decisive,” said Barcelona midfielder Sergio Busquets. “In games like this, whoever scores first has a big advantage. Games are decided in the area, and we were not effective today.”
Vázquez doubled the advantage for the visitors in stoppage time-92nd minute, via a counterattack after Barcelona had desperately thrown forward all players in search of an equaliser.
Though Sergio Aguero pulled one back for Barcelona in the seventh minute of added-on time from a cross from Dest but was too little too late to earn the Catalan giants a share of the spoils.
Sunday’s victory moved Madrid to the top of the LaLiga table, level on points with Sevilla and Real Sociedad on 20 points.
Sociedad can reclaim the lead when it faces defending champion Atlético Madrid later Sunday.
This latest defeat is yet another blow to Barcelona who are left floundering in eighth place-five points adrift of the table-toppers.
Sunday’s Clásico was the 280th installment and was the first without Messi and Madrid’s long-time captain Sergio Ramos, who are now teammates at Paris Saint-Germain.
The two between them took part in 45 editions of Spain’s top rivalry. During this glorious period, Messi led Barcelona to 19 wins while scoring a record 26 goals in the fixture.