Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo have dominated the headlines of the El Clasico over the last few years. Enter Neymar, the Brazilian with two magical feet and a penchant to step up on the big stage.
Barcelona forward Neymar celebrates with teammates after scoring against Real Madrid in the El Clasico, October 26
In his first El Clasico, Neymar scored one and assisted the other, as Barcelona edged Real Madrid 2-1 in a tense, but thankfully missing-in-red-cards, La Liga encounter at the Camp Nou.
Neymar opened the scoring for his side before setting up Alexis Sanchez for a wonderful second goal. Real Madrid got a late consolation through Jese Rodriguez as the away side were left seething over a couple of missed penalty decisions.
Carlo Ancelotti made a couple of surprising changes, giving Gareth Bale a start, not in place of Angel Di Maria, but Karim Benzema, while Sergio Ramos was asked to protect his back-four in midfield.
While Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo were always going to be the cynosure, there was also quite a bit of excitement around the two high-profile sidekicks - Neymar and Bale -- making their El Clasico debuts.
There is little doubt over who had the better game, as Neymar looked bright right from the off. The Brazilian first tested Diego Lopez, back in Real's goal, with a shot from 20 yards, before Barcelona's strong start paid off with the opening goal.
Sergio Busquets gave the ball to Andres Iniesta in the Real half, with the Spanish midfielder then finding Neymar in the inside left channel. Neymar cut onto his right foot before slotting it past Lopez, albeit aided by a deflection off Raphael Varane.
Barcelona should have made it 2-0 soon after, but failed to do so with Messi showing there is some human DNA in him after all.
The Argentine superstar was put clear by a nice through ball, and looked primed to shape it into the bottom corner with all eyes rooted to that part of the net to start rippling, only for everyone to gasp in astonishment as the ball flew a few metres wide.
Real Madrid took about 25 minutes to string a few passes together, but once they got into the groove they did enjoy a bit of the possession, albeit without much end product.
Of Real's front three - Ronaldo was anonymous for much of the first half, Bale tried a few tricks and attempted a couple of shots without much effect, while Di Maria was very much in the periphery.
The one time that Ronaldo did get into a good position with the ball at his feet, he created Real's only real chance of the half, crossing from the left for Sami Khedira, who saw his guided-in strike saved by the foot of Valdes. The ball rebounded and struck Adriano, who was on the floor as he tried to slide in to prevent Khedira from taking the shot, on the arm, but the referee, who gave a few early yellow cards to stamp his authority, waved play on.
It was a decent shout for a spotkick and could have really gone either way.
Real Madrid took control in the second half as they went in search of that oh so crucial equaliser. It was Neymar, though, that had the first opportunity, forcing a reflex save from Lopez after taking down a long ball.
Ronaldo slowly but surely started to grow into the game as Messi's influence at the other end faded. The Portuguese had a brilliant opportunity to make it 1-1 early in the second half, and that scoreline would have been a reality had it not been for a stunning save from Valdes, with the Spanish keeper keeping out Ronaldo's venomous strike from close range.
Benzema came on for Bale on the hour, as the Welshman was left wondering what could have been and knowing he will have to do better in future Clasicos, if he is to warm himself to the Real faithful.
The French striker, who missed an absolute sitter against Juventus in the Champions League in midweek, had a decent chance to find the target with a header from the far post, but headed well wide. Benzema, then, though, did find his shot-on-target boots, smashing a thunderous strike from 22 yards which rattled the crossbar with Valdes well beaten.
The cry of anguish at the near miss said everything about what the striker is going through at the moment.
Ronaldo was left seething soon after as the Portuguese had a strong penalty appeal turned down. Ronaldo, in tremendous goalscoring form, was sent clear by Di Maria, with Javier Mascherano barging the Real player down inside the box. It was a clear push and probably should have been a penalty, but the referee, who was well positioned, thought otherwise.
Real and Ronaldo's night was compounded on 78 minutes as Neymar turned creator, playing in substitute Alexis Sanchez, who scored a peach of a goal, chipping Lopez in some style from 20 yards.
Dani Alves had a decent chance to add the gloss before Sami Khedira failed to find a way past the seemingly impenetrable Valdes.
However, there was to be one final twist as Ronaldo, still smarting from that penalty appeal, stormed down the left before sliding a perfect pass for Jese Rodriguez, who made no mistake in slotting it past Valdes.
However, with just stoppage time remaining after the goal, Barca saw off the rest of the game to pick up a vital three points and go six points clear of their rivals.
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