Barcelona (Reuters): Real Madrid forward Gareth Bale lashed home to deny La Liga champions Barcelona victory in an ill-tempered ‘Clasico’ which finished 2-2 at Camp Nou on Sunday (6 May) after the home side had Sergi Roberto sent off at the end of the first half.
Luis Suarez volleyed unbeaten Barça into the lead after 10 minutes, following a gut-busting run and cross from Roberto while Cristiano Ronaldo levelled for Champions League finalists Real five minutes later from close range. However, the Portugal forward’s ankle was trodden on by Gerard Piqué in the process and he was substituted at halftime. Coach Zinedine Zidane said the injury was “a small thing” and Ronaldo will be fit for the Champions League final.
Bale had risked getting sent off for raking his studs against Samuel Umtiti’s leg but escaped without a booking on that occasion and Roberto was sent off moments later for hitting Marcelo following an off-the-ball tussle. Lionel Messi scored a mesmerising, record-extending 26th Clasico goal to put 10-man Barça back in front after 52 minutes but Bale, who had contributed little, silenced the Nou Camp with a thumping strike from the edge of the area in the 72nd.
Champions Barça have 87 points while Real are third in the Liga standings with 72 after 35 games. Atletico Madrid, who lost their unbeaten home record in a 2-0 defeat by Espanyol earlier on Sunday, are second on 75 but have played one game more.
“This was a Clasico with nothing at stake but we saw a great game,” Zidane told reporters. “We both went out to play well and win. We both played a great game and football is always the most important thing, not the controversy.”
This was the first ‘Clasico’ in a decade which had no bearing on the title race, but the game was still played with all the usual passion and tension which makes it the most famous club fixture in Europe.
Referee Alejandro Hernández Hernández showed a total of eight yellow cards, as well as the straight red for Roberto.
Bale was eventually booked, as was the usually even-tempered Messi who made an uncharacteristically aggressive challenge on Sergio Ramos after the Real captain had an ugly confrontation with Suarez which led to both players getting yellow cards.