A virtuoso Ronaldinho
double and a superb opportunist strike from Samuel Eto'o secured
Barcelona a stunning 3-0 win over arch-rivals Real Madrid at the
Bernabeu on Saturday.
Eto'o scored the opener against his former club when he snapped up the
ball on the edge of the area, turned inside a gaggle of defenders and
fired under goalkeeper Iker Casillas in the 15th minute.
Ronaldinho, fancied to add the European Footballer of the Year to the
World Player award he won last year, struck after a dazzling solo run on
the hour and completed the rout with his second after a mesmerising
piece of skill 12 minutes from time.
Barcelona's 14th league victory at the Bernabeu put the champions top of
the Primera Liga for the first time this season and made Frank Rijkaard
the only Barca coach to lead the Catalans to two victories in Real
Despite having Ronaldo and Zinedine Zidane back from injury, Real rarely
threatened the Barca back four and were jeered off the pitch by their
own fans who had little choice but to marvel at the ease of their
Both sides made a somewhat jittery start but it was Barca who soon took
control with Xavi and Deco marshalling the midfield and the dynamic
Argentine teenager Lionel Messi a constant menace to the Real back four.
The live-wire Eto'o gave Real an early scare when he slid a low shot
past the far post after beating the offside trap but they failed to heed
the warning and five minutes later he put Barcelona into the lead.
Snapping the ball off the feet of team mate Messi, after the Argentine
had darted towards the edge of the area, Eto'o left three defenders for
dead with a stunning turn and drilled past a helpless Casillas.
The Cameroon striker, who joined Barca after Real chief Florentino Perez
rejected an option to buy him at the start of last season, ran to the
corner in front of the president's box with his arm in the air pointing
to the club crest on his shirt.
Real tried to fight their way back into the game but with Barca
depriving them of possession the only problems they created for the
opposition back four were from set pieces.
Barca almost extended their lead when the electric Messi fired off a
venomous shot after bursting into the area but Casillas came to the
rescue with a fine reflex save.
It was one-way traffic once more in the second half as the ball remained
glued to the feet of the Barcelona players and Real were left chasing
shadows in midfield.
Zidane looked well short of match fitness, Ronaldo and Robinho were
starved of the ball and David Beckham had little influence on affairs.
Barca stretched their lead 15 minutes into the second half when
Ronaldinho waltzed through the Real defence.
Picking the ball up some 40 metres out on the left, the Brazilian left
Sergio Ramos sprawling with a quick shuffle of the feet, skipped past
centre back Ivan Helguera and fired a perfectly placed shot past
Casillas into the far corner.
The Brazilian repeated the trick 18 minutes later when he bamboozled
Ramos again, sped into the area and drilled home at the near post to
wrap up a one-sided victory for the Catalans.