By Michael Hincks
Real Madrid 0-1 Barcelona: Ivan Rakitic helps Barca secure second Clasico win at Bernabeu in four days
Last Updated: 03/03/19 9:25am
Barcelona inflicted a second defeat on Real Madrid in four days as Ivan Rakitic's strike secured a 1-0 win at the Bernabeu on Saturday.
After knocking Real out of the Copa del Rey on Wednesday, Rakitic's first-half chip (26) helped Barca stretch their lead at the top of La Liga to 10 points.
Atletico Madrid will look close that gap on Sunday at Real Sociedad, but for Real Madrid their title challenge is effectively over after an eighth league loss of the season left them 12 points adrift.
The defeat also sees Real lose three home games in a row for the first time since 2004, while Barcelona now lead the Clasico head to head for the first time in 87 years, with 96 wins to Real's 95 (51 draws).
Real Madrid: Courtois (6), Carvajal (6), Ramos (5), Varane (6), Reguilon (5), Kroos (5), Modric (5), Casemiro (5), Bale (5), Benzema (6), Vazquez (6)
Subs: Valverde (6), Asensio (6), Isco (6)
Barcelona: Ter Stegen (7), Roberto (6), Pique (8), Lenglet (8), Alba (7), Busquets (7), Rakitic (7), Arthur (6), Dembele (7), Suarez (7), Messi (8)
Subs: Vidal (6), Coutinho (6), Semedo (N/A)
Man of the match: Lionel Messi
A fast-paced start to the game saw Lionel Messi almost chip Barca ahead before Gerard Pique made a vital sliding block to prevent Luka Modric from breaking the deadlock.
Like Wednesday, Barca scored with their first shot on target, this time Rakitic delightfully dinking the ball over the onrushing Thibaut Courtois midway through the first half.
After Courtois denied Luis Suarez and Modric headed just over, the half ended with Messi squaring up to Sergio Ramos after the Real skipper caught the Argentine with a flailing arm, though he ultimately escaped punishment.
Bale was handed a start alongside Vinicius and Benzema up front for Real, while one Barca change saw Arthur come in for Semedo.
The demand of back-to-back Clasicos appeared to take its toll in the second half, with Real struggling to create a telling chance in their search for an equaliser.
Vinicius Jr had an attempt palmed away by Marc-Andre ter Stegen, and then saw a second shot blocked by Clement Lenglet moments before Gareth Bale was jeered off by some supporters after a lacklustre hour on the pitch.
Both Ousmane Dembele and Messi went close to extending Barca's lead, but one goal proved to be enough as the visitors celebrated another victory in Spanish capital.
Man of the match - Lionel Messi
Clement Lenglet and Gerard Pique were both rock-solid in defence for Barcelona, but it is Messi who gets the nod for his dominant performance in the other half.
The five-time Ballon d'Or winner cut an isolated figure on Wednesday, often fouled out of the game, but on Saturday he was back to his normal self, showing quick feet, playing perfect passes, and coming close to scoring on numerous occasions in what was his 41st Clasico.
Real Madrid welcome Ajax to the Bernabeu on Tuesday as the Champions League holders look to defend their 2-1 lead going into the last-16 second leg. Barcelona are next in action in the league at home to Rayo Vallecano next Saturday.