Barcelona on Sunday snatched a 2-1 Clasico win over Real Madrid with Franck Kessie’s late goal to move 12 points clear at the top of La Liga.
The victory dents Real Madrid’s ambitions of retaining the title and leaves the Catalans close to lifting the trophy for the first time since 2018-2019.
Carlo Ancelotti’s Real Madrid took the lead through a Ronald Araujo own-goal, but Barcelona pulled level when Sergi Roberto tucked home just before halftime.
Both sides had chances to win the game and Marco Asensio struck for Madrid, but the goal was ruled offside by the video assistant referee (VAR), before Alejandro Balde set up Kessie in the 92nd minute.
“It’s not definitive, but it’s a very important step,” Xavi told reporters. “Twelve points clear at the top of La Liga, we are having an extraordinary league campaign, I am very happy for that and proud to watch the team play.”
The buildup to the match was overshadowed by Barcelona’s corruption charge in the “Caso Negreira” refereeing scandal.
Madrid joined Spanish prosecutors’ complaint against Barcelona last week and club president Florentino Perez snubbed the game for the first time in more than 20 years, amid rising tensions between the two Spanish giants.
That fed the match’s intensity, both on and off the pitch, in Xavi’s sixth Clasico as Barcelona coach, but only his first at the Camp Nou.
Xavi asked fans to make the stadium a pressure cooker and they responded, selling it out, whistling Madrid in possession and conjuring one of the best atmospheres of the season.
However, they fell behind in unfortunate circumstances. Araujo deflected Vinicius Junior’s cross in at the near post, with Marc-Andre ter Stegen helpless.
Araujo, playing at rightback to counteract the Brazilian, has enjoyed his duels with Vinicius in the past, but this time the winger triumphed, albeit fortuitously.
Barcelona supporters became enraged by his emphatic celebration in front of them.
It was the first goal from open play Barcelona have conceded at the Camp Nou in La Liga all season, and only the second strike at home and the ninth overall.
Barcelona complained defender Nacho, already booked, should have been sent off for a handoff on Raphinha.
The hosts did not get their wish, but were building up steam and found the breakthrough just before halftime from an unlikely source.
Selected in place of injured midfielder Pedri, Sergi Roberto was in the right place at the right time to control a loose ball in the penalty area and arc it beyond Thibaut Courtois.
Barcelona had significantly more possession than in their Copa del Rey win over Madrid and significantly more chances, but Madrid nearly won it.
Real Madrid substitute Asensio fired home, but the goal was ruled out for offside after a nervy wait for the VAR.
“We did not win because of an offside that we’re still doubtful about,” Ancelotti said. “I was not so sure. We have doubts about it, and we go back to Madrid with this doubt.”
Barcelona seemed content with the draw, but Kessie’s last-gasp strike sparked wild celebrations at the Camp Nou.
“I don’t have the feeling [the league is won], but I understand the fans singing campeones — it’s a considerable advantage, but we can’t relax,” Xavi said. “The atmosphere was extraordinary, how the fans supported the team.”
Earlier, Real Sociedad held on to fourth place with a 2-0 win over Elche.
They are under pressure from Real Betis Balompie and Villarreal, who also both won.
Betis, fifth, are three points behind the Basque side after they beat RCD Mallorca 1-0, while Villarreal, sixth, thrashed CA Osasuna 3-0 on the road and sit four points behind the Andalusians.
Sevilla fell to a disappointing 2-0 defeat at Getafe as their topsy-turvy season continued, leaving Jorge Sampaoli’s side 14th and two points above the relegation zone.
South Korea’s two-goal skipper Son Heung-min said that “not pleasant” comments from opponents China had fired him up to do the business in their FIFA World Cup qualifying clash. The Tottenham Hotspur forward scored twice and set up the third as Jurgen Klinsmann’s side won 3-0 on Tuesday to silence a sell-out home crowd of more than 40,000 in Shenzhen. South Korea have a perfect six points from their opening two qualifying matches for the 2026 World Cup in North America and have scored eight goals, conceding none. “Honestly, when I heard they [the China team and media] were saying they know how
HATS OFF: After Sinner became the first man to beat the Serbian in a singles match at the Davis Cup since 2011, Djokovic said all he could do was congratulate his opponent A “proud” Jannik Sinner on Saturday beat world No. 1 Novak Djokovic twice in one day to send Italy into the Davis Cup final with a 2-1 win over Serbia in Malaga. Italy, who won the trophy for the first and only time in 1976, was yesterday to face 28-time winners Australia. Sinner, who has triumphed three times in four clashes across 11 days against the usually unstoppable Djokovic, crucially kept Italy in the tie by beating the 24-time Grand Slam winner 6-2, 2-6, 7-5 in the second singles rubber. Sinner and Lorenzo Sonego then defeated Djokovic and Miomir Kecmanovic 6-3, 6-4 in
Tokyo’s well-kept streets might not be the most obvious place to do it, but competitive litter-hunters yesterday sifted through the Japanese capital in their first world championship. The Spogomi World Cup featured 21 countries battling it out to collect the most trash within a set time limit, scouring the streets in search of plastic, cigarette butts and other trash. Spogomi founder Kenichi Mamitsuka started to pick up litter on his morning runs and realized that setting targets could turn it into a fun activity. He organized his first competition 15 years ago, taking the title from the words “sport” and “gomi” — Japanese
David Benavidez on Saturday retained the interim world super middleweight belt by stopping Demetrius Andrade after the sixth round, while in Ireland, Katie Taylor avenged her only professional loss by beating Chantelle Cameron in a majority decision to become a two-weight undisputed champion. In what was billed as clash of styles that could go the distance between unbeaten 168-pounders (76.2kg), Benavidez (28-0, 24 KOs) looked more like a clinician with a dominating performance before Andrade’s corner requested the stoppage after the sixth round in Las Vegas. Andrade (32-1) suffered the first loss of his career. Benavidez is widely recognized as the world’s best