Luis Suarez’s maiden El Clasico goal helped Barcelona beat Real Madrid and move four points clear at the summit of the La Liga.
Jeremy Mathieu’s first league goal for Barca placed the hosts in the lead few minutes after the opening quarter, but Cristiano Ronaldo leveled scores with his 15th El Clasico goal moments after Neymar had let a gilt-edged opening go begging.
Suarez was hardly conspicuous on the night until he sealed victory for the Baulgranas 11 minutes after the interval, controlling a Dani Alves delivery over 40-yard before finishing across Iker Casillas into the net.
Claudio Bravo returned in goal for Barcelona from the side that toyed with Manchester City in the midweek, while Toni Kroos and Iker Casillas returned in Real’s lineup from the 2-0 home win against Levante.
The Catalans’ fine run of form had seen them claim nine of their last ten matches, while the Los Merengues had scraped just three wins in their last six games.
The opening half-hour at the Camp Nou witnessed some high-octane end-to-end action with Ronaldo side-footing against the crossbar in the 12th minute from a tight angle at the back post.
They say attack is the best form of defense and Luis Enrique’s men were soon ahead from the most unlikely candidate as Mathieu, who joined Barca from Valencia in the summer, lost his marker to thump a superb header down into the net from Lionel Messi’s free-kick.
The French defender almost canceled out his opener at the other end when he miscued a header over the top of his goal. Aside that loss of concentration, Barca kept Real attackers at bay and should have doubled their lead but Neymar could not connect with a Suarez flashing cross across goal.
Ronaldo leveled on the counter attack two minutes after the half-hour mark when Benzema backheeled into his path to poke home from 10 yards.
Gareth Bale was a threat in the first half and was unlucky not to have gotten among the goals five minutes to the interval as Ronaldo, from an offside position, flicked the ball on to the Welshman who steered inside the net, but his celebration was cut short.
Bravo foiled Benzema’s effort after a neat move through the Barca backline soon after the restart.
Suarez restored Barca’s goal cushion in the 56th minute, when he ran on to a routine long ball, controlled with his first touch and then finished across Casillas for his 1st career El Clasico goal.
Messi watched his shot from 20 yards shade the post before Neymar sliced his effort wide. Bravo showcased reflex at the other end again to divert Benzema’s twice-deflected effort with one hand.
Suarez drilled a fine shot across the face of goal after beating two defenders on the left of the area. Jordi Alba was denied by Casillas following a fine link-up play with Messi as Barca sought to seal off the game in a dominant second-half display.
The Real veteran shot-stopper stooped low to gather Messi’s shot and deny the Argentine superstar his 33rd La Liga goal of the season.