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Real beat Barcelona again
March 04, 2013
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MADRID: Real Madrid are bristling with confidence for the Champions League clash at Manchester United after inflicting a second defeat on Barcelona in five days thanks to a late Sergio Ramos goal in a 2-1 win on Saturday.

Lionel Messi equalled Alfredo Di Stefano’s record of 18 ‘Clasico’ goals with an 18th-minute La Liga leveller after Karim Benzema’s opener for hosts Real in the sixth minute.

But that was scant comfort for league leaders Barca, dumped out of the King’s Cup by their arch-rivals 4-2 on aggregate on Tuesday.

Third-placed Real’s victory does little to affect the title race, leaving them 13 points behind Barca with 12 matches left, although it represents another big psychological boost ahead of Tuesday’s last-16, second leg at Premier League leaders United.

Real’s trip to Old Trafford - last month’s first leg at the Bernabeu finished 1-1 - is the club’s overwhelming priority and coach Jose Mourinho left key players including top scorer Cristiano Ronaldo and midfielders Xabi Alonso, Sami Khedira and Mesut Ozil out of his starting lineup on Saturday.

It was a strangely low-key affair for a clash between the Spanish giants — the 225th meeting between the sides — and both teams appeared content to settle for a 1-1 draw until Ramos leapt to head home a Luka Modric corner in the 82nd minute.

The Barca players were furious when their penalty appeals for an apparent Ramos foul on Adriano were waved away in the dying seconds and goalkeeper Victor Valdes was shown a yellow card and then a red moments later for furiously berating the referee after the whistle.

Stuttering Barca were looking for revenge after Real ended their treble hopes on Tuesday but fell behind when Benzema was left unmarked at the far post and clipped an Alvaro Morata cross into the net. Messi equalised when he got the better of Ramos and sent a low shot past Diego Lopez for his 50th goal of the season in all competitions.

Agencies
 

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