Barcelona’s recent slump continued as Sergio Ramos' header nine minutes from time handed Real Madrid their second win over the Catalans in five days.
Karim Benzema had given the hosts the perfect start as he stabbed home Alvaro Morata's cross after just six minutes, but Barca were level just 12 minutes later when Lionel Messi equalled Alfredo di Stefano’s record for goals scored in Clasicos as he rifled in his 18th strike in clashes between the two.
The rest of the first half was then played out at a rather pedestrian pace but the introduction of Cristiano Ronaldo from the Madrid bench livened up matters after the break and Madrid eventually found the winner when Ramos rose highest to power home Luka Modric’s corner.
Jose Mourinho had signalled that Tuesday’s Champions League clash with Manchester United was clearly his priority as he made seven changes to the side that started the 3-1 win over Barca in the Copa del Rey semi-final second leg in midweek with Ronaldo’s absence being the most striking.
However, even without their talisman Madrid made the perfect start as Barca’s defensive woes of late continued when Morata swung in a delightful cross from the left and Benzema was on hand to prod the ball home from close range.
Barca were left furious in stoppage time as referee Miguel Perez Lasa didn’t award a penalty from what appeared to be a trip by Ramos on Adriano and Valdes was sent-off after the final whistle for his protestations.