Barcelona 2-1 Real Madrid: Last-gasp Kessie winner settles Clasico
Franck Kessie scored a dramatic late winner as Barcelona took a significant step towards LaLiga glory with a 2-1 Clasico victory over Real Madrid on Sunday.
Blaugrana midfielder Kessie stroked home in the 92nd minute at Camp Nou to send Xavi’s side 12 points clear of Madrid, who thought they had won it earlier when Marco Asensio saw an 81st-minute strike ruled out.
A somewhat comical Ronald Araujo own goal had offered Madrid an early lead before Sergi Roberto restored parity in the 45th minute.
Kessie’s late intervention, placing past Thibaut Courtois, arrived after Asensio’s finish was ruled out for offside as Barca closed on the title with 12 league games left to play.
Courtois produced impressive stops to thwart Robert Lewandowski and Raphinha but Madrid struck first after nine minutes.
Araujo inexplicably headed into his own net at the near post when attempting to defend Vinicius Junior’s hopeful left-wing centre.
Courtois kept a Barca response at bay, denying Andreas Christensen’s inventive flick and a fizzing Raphinha drive, although Xavi’s men finally fought back on the stroke of half-time.
A desperate Eder Militao block against Raphinha saw the ball fall to Sergi Roberto, who fired into the bottom-right corner after a slight deflection wrong-footed Courtois.
Another deflected effort almost undid Madrid again after the interval, though Lewandowski’s attempt off Eduardo Camavinga whistled wide to Courtois’ left.
Asensio thought he had snatched victory when turning home Dani Carvajal’s right-wing cross, only for a VAR review to adjudge the substitute offside.
More late drama was to follow when Kessie coolly finished into the bottom-right corner from Alejandro Balde’s low centre as Barca edged closer towards a first top-flight crown since 2019.
What does it mean? Chaotic finish puts Barca within touching distance
Madrid have been far from their best for large parts of the season and were somewhat fortuitous to still be in the contest at half-time after an impressive Courtois performance.
Carlo Ancelotti’s visitors can perhaps have few complaints after this last-gasp defeat, albeit that will do little to stem the blow of such a significant loss in the title race.
A battling showing also preserved Barca’s unbeaten home record in LaLiga this season after a 13th such game without defeat — form, coupled with moments like Kessie’s winner, that will likely prove the difference should the Blaugrana get over the line.
De Jong dazzles
Kessie, not chosen by Xavi to start as Barca opted for the resolute Sergi Roberto in midfield, may take the plaudits for his late strike but Frenkie de Jong was central to all the Blaugrana’s creative intent.
The Netherlands international laid on a game-leading five chances, proving his quality against veteran world stars Toni Kroos and Luka Modric in the Madrid midfield.
Erroneous Araujo goes unpunished
Araujo scored the first Clasico own goal in LaLiga this century and Barca’s first against Madrid in all competitions since Gerard Pique in August 2017 in the Supercopa de Espana.
However, the Uruguay international’s erroneous intervention did not prove costly as Xavi’s Blaugrana spared the defender’s blushes and stalled a late Madrid title push with a dramatic victory.
Barca visit Elche on April 1 after the international break, while Madrid host Real Valladolid the day after.
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