It was a very good day for Barcelona

Updated: 2011-12-12 08:00

(China Daily)

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It was a very good day for Barcelona

Barcelona's Cesc Fabregas, bottom, celebrates his goal against Real Madrid with teammates Dani Alves, Lionel Messi, Andres Iniesta and Sergio Busquets on Saturday in El Clasico. The goal, which put Barca up 3-1, was Fabregas' 10th of the season. [Photo/Agencies]

Barca wins El Clasico, beating rival Real Madrid, 3-1, to move to top of La Liga

MADRID - Barcelona overcame the shock of conceding a goal after just 23 seconds - the fastest in El Clasico history - to defeat bitter rival Real Madrid 3-1 on Saturday and go top of La Liga.

French striker Karim Benzema scored the early goal to give Real a 1-0 lead after a terrible clearance from Barcelona goalkeeper Victor Valdes.

Alexis Sanchez, who was chosen ahead of David Villa, levelled in the 30th minute after a sublime through ball from Lionel Messi.

A drive from Xavi in the 53rd minute took a wicked deflection off Marcelo and beyond the desperate reach of Iker Casillas in the Real goal as Barcelona went to a 2-1 lead.

Cesc Fabregas then added the third in the 65th minute, scoring with a diving header from a fine cross by Dani Alves.

It was the former Arsenal man's 10th league goal of the campaign.

Real, which trails Barca on goal difference, still has a game in hand, but this result brought to an end a 15-match winning streak for Jose Mourinho's side.

Defending champion Barcelona is now unbeaten in six visits to Real's Santiago Bernabeu home, but coach Pep Guardiola urged his team not to get carried away.

He is aware that by the time his side returns from the World Club Cup in Japan, Real will probably be back on top.

"Real will be the leader again if it beat Sevilla. There is no point being the champions in November or December."

He added: "I thought it was going to be tougher for us. It was a match in which we were always going to need some luck.

"Madrid were always going to create chances, that has always happened when I have come here, but overall I am happy with the way the game went.

"I don't think that this result will cause distress for Madrid, they will recover and continue to be the biggest rival. Nothing is decided now and it wouldn't be either if we had lost."

Mourinho admitted that the result was disappointing, but that it was not a make-or-break game.

"The players are sad but calm. Before the match we said we had our emotions under control and that this would not change if we went six points ahead or ended up level in the table," he said.

"We have only lost a game and if we win our next match then we are leaders."

For the first time in recent years the pressure was on Barcelona, which knew that a defeat would have a serious bearing on the championship race.

Guardiola had been experimenting with a three-man defense, but admitted it would be a risk at the Bernabeu with the strength of the Real attack and he chose instead to field a tried and trusted back four that included Carlos Puyol and Gerard Pique.

Agence France-Presse