MADRID — Luis Suarez scored twice and Neymar added a goal and an assist to lead Barcelona to an emphatic 4-0 win over Real Madrid at the Santiago Bernabeu in the first “clasico” of the season on Saturday, leaving its rival under increased pressure from the home fans.
The commanding victory gave Barcelona a six-point lead in the Spanish league standings, and halted Madrid’s 22-game unbeaten streak at home in the league.
Barcelona played most of the match without Lionel Messi, who came off the bench in the 56th minute after being sidelined for nearly two months because of a left knee injury.
“It was a memorable game, it will go down in history,” Barcelona coach Luis Enrique said. “It’s our eternal rival. It’s not always that you can win with such superiority.
“We were better,” he said. “I’m satisfied not just for the victory, but for the way we did it.”
Real Madrid fans loudly jeered their team after the loss, its fourth in the last five games against Barcelona. Fans waved white handkerchiefs — a gesture of goodbye aimed at Madrid coach Rafa Benitez — and called for the resignation of president Florentino Perez. In a sign of Barcelona’s dominance, the scorer of the third goal, Andres Iniesta, was applauded by some Madrid fans when he was substituted in the second half.
“We played a very complete game in every sense, when it came to holding the ball or to look for an advantage up front,” Iniesta said. “We gave them few chances and didn’t lose the ball much, something that can generate problems for us. We have been effective and played a very good match here.”
Real Madrid played the final minutes with 10 men as Francisco Alarcon “Isco” was sent off after a hard foul on Neymar in the 85th.
“It hurts a lot to lose this way, especially to Barcelona,” Benitez said. “We made too many mistakes and when you play against a very good team like Barcelona you end up paying for them. The only thing we can do now is continue to work hard and see how we can improve for the next match. It’s a long tournament and we have to try to recover these six points.”
It was the second consecutive loss for Real Madrid after an unbeaten start to its season, and the seventh straight win for Barcelona.
There were unprecedented security measures in place after the attacks in Paris last week, with nearly 3,000 policemen and private security officers working to maintain public safety at the 81,000-capacity stadium. There was a minute of silence in honour of the victims in Paris, and a large French flag was displayed across some of the lower fan sections as the players lined up at midfield before kickoff.
Barcelona reached 30 points from 12 matches, while Madrid remained with 24 points. Madrid needed to win to pull even with its rival in points and return to the top of the standings on goal difference.
Third-place Atletico Madrid, which plays at Real Betis on Sunday, is one point behind Real Madrid and seven behind Barcelona.
Barcelona was in control during most of the game and never gave Madrid many chances to score. Cristiano Ronaldo, Karim Benzema and Gareth Bale did not have any impact on the game.
Suarez and Neymar, meanwhile, continued to improve on their incredible scoring streak — the South American duo has scored 23 of the team’s 27 goals since Messi got injured. It was Suarez’s seventh and eighth goals in the last five games, and Neymar’s sixth in the last four games. Neymar leads the league with 12 goals, one more than Suarez.
Messi recovered from a left knee injury but started the clasico on the bench because he was not yet 100 per cent fit. The Argentine playmaker had missed the last nine Barcelona games.
Suarez opened the scoring in the 11th after receiving a perfect pass by Sergi Roberto behind the defenders. He used the outside of his right foot to quickly fire a firm low shot into the far corner, giving no chance to Madrid goalkeeper Keylor Navas.
Neymar increased the lead from close range in the 39th after a through ball by Iniesta. The Brazilian controlled the ball inside the area and sent it into the net with a low left-footed shot underneath Navas, who touched the ball but couldn’t completely block the shot. Replays showed Neymar appeared to be slightly offside when he received Iniesta’s pass.
Iniesta scored the third with a powerful strike into the top of the net after receiving a back-heel pass from Neymar just inside the box in the 53rd, and Suarez closed the scoring from in front of the goal after being set up by Jordi Alba in the 74th.
Barcelona goalkeeper Claudio Bravo came up with big saves in the few chances created by Real Madrid, including a couple by the lacklustre Ronaldo.