MADRID – Barcelona on Saturday stunned host Real Madrid with a 0-3 triumph in the 17th round of La Liga to remain undefeated for the 25th match so far, effectively ending defending champion Real Madrid’s already-slim chances to win the title.
Thanks to three second-half goals from Uruguay’s Luis Suarez, Lionel Messi of Argentina and Alex Vidal of Spain, leader Barça earned its 14th league win.
With the victory at Bernabeu stadium, Barcelona widened the gap ahead of second-place Atletico Madrid to nine points and arch-rival Real Madrid to 14 points.
Real Madrid approached the game offensively, with a goal from their dynamic star forward Cristiano Ronaldo ruled offside in the first few minutes.
It was a one-sided game early in the first half, with Real Madrid’s Portuguese icon wasting a number of scoring chances, including a pass from Toni Kroos of Germany that Ronaldo failed to shoot from inside the area.
The final minutes of the first half had all the action, as Ronaldo, his French teammate Karim Benzema and Barcelona’s Paulinho of Brazil each missed scoring chances.
Paulinho nicely volleyed a pass by Argentine star Lionel Messi from close range, forcing Real Madrid’s goalkeeper Keylor Navas to make a spectacular save in the 30th minute.
On the other end of the field, Barça’s goalkeeper Marc-Andre Ter Stegen prevented Ronaldo from finding the back of the net with a left-leg save two minutes later.
Navas again shone by stopping a header from Paulino, just before Benzema’s own header hit the post with three minutes to go until the end of the half.
Barcelona was in charge in the first minutes of the second half, seizing on their first close scoring chance to take the lead in the 54th minute.
After a great effort directly under his rivals’ noses by Ivan Rakitic of Croatia, he passed the ball to Sergi Roberto, who set up Uruguayan forward Luis Suarez to find the back of the net.
Minutes later, Suarez had the chance to double the score for Barcelona, but fired the ball into the outer part of the net from close range.
The Messi-Suarez duo proved to be decisive once again when the Argentine star made a pass to his teammate, who fired a powerful shot that forced Navas to stop the ball with feline reflexes.
Messi played the rebound ball again to Suarez, who fired it toward the wide-open net, and Real Madrid’s Dani Carvajal stopped the ball with his hand.
Carvajal was sent off and Barcelona was awarded a penalty kick that Messi successfully converted in the 64th minute.
Real Madrid’s substitutes Marco Asensio and Gareth Bale, as well as Kroos, squandered chances to get their team on the scoreboard, while Navas prevented Nelson Semedo from scoring Barcelona’s third goal.
Following Real Madrid’s missed chances, Aleix Vidal secured Barcelona’s win with a final goal four minutes into stoppage time.