BARCELONA, October 25
Real Madrid captain Sergio Ramos once again proved to be the man for the big occasion as he converted a fiercely debated penalty to help his side to a 3-1 win over rivals Barcelona at an empty Camp Nou in La Liga on Saturday.
Ramos, making a record 45th appearance in the ‘Clasico’ fixture, was awarded the spot-kick following a VAR review, after falling in the area when his shirt was tugged by Barca’s Clement Lenglet as the pair contested a corner.
The defender showed his customary calm to score from the spot in the 63rd minute and restore the champions’ lead, after Federico Valverde had opened the scoring in the fifth minute only for Barca’s 17-year-old forward Ansu Fati to equalise less than three minutes later.
Barca ran out of steam in the second half and Madrid missed two big chances to seal the points after Ramos’ penalty before substitute Luka Modric finally put the result beyond doubt with a goal in added time.
The victory took La Liga champions Madrid back to the top of the standings, while Barca, who have only taken one point from their last three league outings, are all the way down in 10th.
The win is a huge boost for Zinedine Zidane’s side, who went into the match reeling from back-to-back home defeats to promoted Cadiz and a depleted Shakhtar Donetsk. Barca coach Ronald Koeman dropped 120 million euro forward Antoine Griezmann for the second game in a row but was slow to turn to his bench, not making a change until bringing on Griezmann and Francisco Trincao with nine minutes to go.
‘VAR only against Barca’
Koeman was fiercely critical of the referee and video assistant after the defeat. “I don’t understand VAR, I think it is only used to make decisions against Barca,” Koeman said. “You always get shirt tugs like that in the area and I think Ramos makes a foul on Lenglet first.”
Barca had two penalty appeals turned down in the match, when Lionel Messi went down from a challenge by Raphael Varane in the first half and when the ball bounced off the arm of Varane in the second. Neither incident was reviewed by the referee on the pitchside monitor. “We have had five matches and (VAR) has only been used to go against Barca. It’s never gone our way,” Koeman said. — Reuters