Madrid: Andres Iniesta thanked Real Madrid fans after he was applauded off the pitch following his masterful display in Barcelona’s thumping El Clasico win.
The Spain international, captaining the side for the first time against Madrid, set up Neymar’s goal in the first half before smashing in an unstoppable effort in the second as the Liga champions romped to a 4-0 win, with Luis Suarez also scoring twice.
Real Madrid’s Cristiano Ronaldo (left) and Gareth Bale react after Barcelona’s fourth goal at the Santiago Bernabeu Stadium on Saturday. Pic:AP/PTI
Iniesta’s all-round performance drew applause from the Santiago Bernabeu faithful as he was substituted for Munir late on, in much the same way as Ronaldinho was given a standing ovation for a dazzling display in 2006. The Barca skipper appreciated the response from the stands and described his side’s performance as “complete in every way”.
“I want to thank the fans,” he told Canal Plus.
“We feel very good, we played a complete game in every way. We gave them very few chances, we hardly lost the ball. We were very effective. The other day I said that the only thing we were interested in is ourselves. We’ve done it and we minimised our opponent. There’s a long way to go, this isn’t decisive at all, but we leave here very satisfied.”
Real players angry
Meanwhile, Real Madrid manager Rafael Benitez revealed that his were angry at half-time after rejecting suggestions a lack of desire was behind the shock result. “Whenever you lose it’s always bad and especially against Barcelona. We’ve paid for our mistakes. We’ve made mistakes and against a team like Barca you pay for those dearly,” Benitez said at a news conference.
Barcelona’s Neymar (left) celebrates a goal with Andres Iniesta on Saturday. Pic/AFP
“We wanted to attack and win back the ball high up the field but it didn’t come off. We’re all responsible for it not going well, now we look for unity in the group and to try and sort this out in the next game.
“Now we have to train hard and work hard to improve. I hope the team can recover quickly. When you lose in this way there is a worry as to how the players will react.
“At half-time they were angry and at the end of the game there was little to say. I won’t talk about a lack of desire in my team.”
Benitez did admit that he made tactical errors in his team selection.
“We have made some mistakes and we have paid for it. We wanted players of quality and experience.
“After the game, I must say I chose the wrong XI. This group has the quality to do it better than we did. We are all responsible and we must find a reaction,” he said.
Madrid trail La Liga leaders Barcelona by six points following the Clasico.
Key moments of the El Clasico
10th min goal
Luis Suarez (centre) scores Barca’s first goal
Sergi Roberto, picked on the right flank over Lionel Messi, gets the ball in the centre of the pitch. He drives past a few Madrid players before delivering a defence-splitting pass for Luis Suarez. The Uruguayan clinically finishes past Keylor Navas with the outside of his foot.
40th min goal
Neymar (right) slots the ball past Real Madrid’s Keylor Navas (left) to score Barcelona’s second at Santiago Bernabeu. Pics/Getty Images, AFP
Suarez robs Madrid’s Luka Modric of the ball around the centre circle and passes to Andres Iniesta. The Spaniard dribbles forward unchallenged before laying the ball on for Neymar, whose shot bounces off Madrid ’keeper Navas and into the net.
52nd min goal
Andres Iniesta blasts the ball into the goal
Ivan Rakitic picks up the ball in Madrid’s half and passes to Iniesta who, in turn, plays the ball into Neymar’s path. The Brazilian back-heels the ball back to Iniesta, who blasts the ball into the top corner.
56th min: Messi comes on
Barcelona star forward Lionel Messi, who has been sidelined for the last two months due to knee ligament damage, comes on for Rakitic.
68 min Save
Messi’s freekick hits the Real Madrid wall before the hosts start a counter-attack. Gareth Bale feeds Cristiano Ronaldo with a pass from the outside of his boot. The Portuguese superstar, one-on-one with Barcelona custodian Claudio Bravo, tries to chip the ball into the goal but Bravo pulls off a stunning save.
74th min goal
Luis Suarez (second from left) scores Barca’s fourth goal past a hapless Keylor Navas (right)
Messi picks up the ball in Real Madrid’s half before beating a few Madrid players with his precise pass to Jordi Alba on the edge of the box. The defender flicks the ball on to Suarez around the corner, who waits for ’keeper Navas to come out before clipping the ball over him.
85min Red card
Neymar falls down after being tackled
A frustrated Isco picks up a red card by needlessly lashing out at Neymar. The Real Madrid player’s kick connects with the Brazilian forward’s left knee as he runs past Isco.
I didn’t see it going like that. We were at a superior level and generated superiority in many areas of the pitch. We were solid at the back too and it was more the merit of Barca than the fault of Madrid
A great victory in El Clasico and a good feeling on my return to the pitch. There’s a long way to go, but we’ll keep fighting to win every game we play in
Years ago, it was difficult to come here and win but now any Barcelona fan can come with optimism to the Bernabeu. We have changed the history of the club in the last few Clasico games and I'm very happy to experience it first hand
Real Madrid manager
Logically we are hurting. It hurts to lose and particularly to lose in that manner. What worries me is the team recovering mentally before the next game
Real Madrid defender
Unfortunately, we failed to do things well. We have to forget this and learn from it. We apologise to the supporters, that wasn't the game we wanted to play. We’ll keep fighting in the way we have to
Real Madrid defender
I don’t like to single out any individuals and I don’t want to look for a guilty party. When you lose to Barcelona, the fans feel hurt and they want an explanation. But I don’t have words at this point. It’s a tough night, a difficult night for us