Barcelona, Spain (4E Sports) – Neymar and Alexis Sanchez scored in each half to carry Barcelona to a 2-1 victory over Real Madrid in Saturday’s Clasico at the Camp Nou.
Barcelona now has a four-point advantage over Atletico Madrid at the top of La Liga standings and a six-point cushion over Real Madrid following a third straight victory.
Jose Rodriguez scored in stoppage time for Real Madrid, which suffered its second defeat in four league games.
Lionel Messi returned for Gerardo Martino’s side for his first start in the league for four weeks following a thigh injury, together with Javier Mascherano and Daniel Alves.
Real Madrid gave Gareth Bale his first Clasico start — his second since moving to the Spanish capital – but he has yet to complete a full 90-minute game after he was substituted on the hour.
The 24-year-old Bale, who moved to Real Madrid from Tottenham last month for a world record signing fee of $150 million, was hardly a factor in his forward role and was booked for a foul on Barca defender Gerard Pique.
Instead it was Neymar who took centerstage for Barcelona, scoring his third La Liga goal in 10 appearances in the 19th minute to settle a tense game.
Andres Iniesta gave the ball to Neymar on the left-hand side of the penalty area. The Brazilian beat two defenders then unleashed a shot that deflected off Dani Carvajal and went past Diego Lopez.
Messi had a chance to double the lead two minutes later but his left-footed shot was off target.
In the second half, Neymar also got an opportunity to add to Barcelona’s lead but his half-volley was saved by Lopez.
Sanchez secured the victory with 12 minutes to play as he executed a perfect chip over Lopez from the edge of the penalty area for a 2-0 lead.
Meanwhile, Alex Lopez scored two goals to help Celta Vigo end a four-match winless run with a 5-0 blanking of Malaga.
Augusto Fernandez, Nolito and Charles Dias also scored for Celta Vigo, which handed Malaga its third straight loss.
In other matches, Granada downed Elche, 1-0, while Levante blanked Espanyol, 3-0.