By James Agberebi: Lionel Messi became the top scorer ever in El Clasico history as Barcelona maintained their unbeaten run to the Spanish LaLiga season by defeating 10-Real Madrid 3-0 at the Santiago Bernabeu on Saturday.
Croatia, who will face Nigeria at the 2018 World Cup, had Ivan Rakitic for Barcelona and Madrid’s duo Luka Modric and Mateo Kovacic in action.
Three second half goals from Luiz Suarez, Messi and Aleix Vidal sealed the comprehensive win for Barcelona.
The win took leaders Barcelona to 45 points, ahead of fourth-placed Madrid who are on 31 points.
Madrid thought they had broken the deadlock early in the first half through Cristiano Ronaldo but his header from a corner was ruled out for offside.
Madrid had the first big chance of the game on 10th minute but Ronaldo miscued inside the box from a low left cross.
In the 21st minute Ronaldo had another chance following a Madrid breakaway but his goal-bound shot came off a Barcelona defender.
Paulinho had Barcelona’s first big chance on 30 minute but his well-struck shot from a floated pass was tipped over the bar by Keylor Navas for a corner.
In the 32nd Ronaldo almost opened the scoring after good play but his left-foot shot came off Marc-Andre Ter Stegen’s chip and went away for a corner
Barcelona had a chance of their own on 40 minutes through Paulinho again whose header was palmed away for a corner by Navas.
Suarez eventually broke the deadlock on 54 minutes as he slid the ball past Navas off Sergio Roberto’s low cross after Barcelona broke away.
Barcelona almost doubled their lead on 58 minutes but Suarez could not squeeze his effort from a tight angle on target.
Messi made it 2-0 from the penalty spot on 64 minutes after Dani Carvajal deliberately blocked a goal bound shot with his hand and was sent off.
It was Jesse’s 25th El Casico goal, the most by any player in the history of Real Madrid versus Barcelona.
Messi should have extended Barcelona’s lead on 70 minutes but his low shot was well saved by Navas.
Madrid almost pulled a goal back through substitute Gareth Bale but his close range strike was saved by Ter Stegen.
Sergio Ramos had another chance for Madrid on 83rd minutes but his left-foot shot from a tight angle was saved by Ter Stegen for a corner.
Messi almost added to his goal on 87 minutes only for Navas to get down quickly to stop his low shot from the edge of the box sneaking into the back of the net.
And in the 93rd minute Vidal scored the third goal after his low strike from Messi’s low cross squeezed under Navas.