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Luis Suarez strikes the decisive blow for classy Barcelona

Barcelona 2 - 1 Real Madrid

By Pete Jenson

In the end it wasn't decided by Lionel Messi or Cristiano Ronaldo; it was settled by Luis Suarez.

In the battle of Spain's big two, and of the world's greatest strikers, Messi struck first by making Barcelona's opener before Ronaldo responded to equalise for Real Madrid. Suarez, however, got the winner to move Barcelona four points clear of their rivals with 10 games to go.

At half time it looked like being Ronaldo's night after he had equalised Jeremy Mathieu's header. He was more motivated than ever after a week of hearing how Messi is history's greatest player. He even dived for a penalty in the first half as all means, fair and otherwise, were used to win the game.

But despite Madrid's gutsy performance it was Suarez's determination that won the night, the Uruguayan somehow sweeping Dani Alves' pass past Iker Casillas before Pepe and Sergio Ramos could close him down.

Real Madrid had come into the game having lost two of their last three, surrendered their lead at the top of La Liga and long since been knocked out of the Copa del Rey. Barcelona in contrast reached the Cup final and convincingly saw off Premier League champions Manchester City in the Champions League.

Barca launched their first attack and Suarez almost scored after a one-two with Andres Iniesta. Messi had his first nutmeg victim, slipping the ball through Toni Kroos' legs, as Barca had the upper hand in the opening minutes.

Messi had parked himself on the right wing with Barcelona knowing that Madrid's left-back Marcelo would leave him plenty of space.

In the 16th minute he was found by Neymar but headed well wide of Casillas' right-hand upright. Pepe then barged over Suarez and from the free-kick Barcelona took the lead through the most unlikely of scorers.

Messi took the set-piece and Mathieu timed his run perfectly to head home. The French defender arrived with conviction ahead of Ramos and powered the ball past Casillas.

Barcelona could have gone 2-0 up when Suarez' cross-shot was somehow fumbled straight at Casillas by Neymar and Barca were punished at the other end as Ronaldo scored from Karim Benzema's brilliant flick. He milked the abuse he received from fans.

Madrid kept up the pressure in the second half and Benzema so nearly finished a fine move but Claudio Bravo made the save and paved the way for Suarez to win it. Alves released him and before Pepe and Ramos could close him down, he had the ball nestled in the far corner of Casillas' net.

Barecelona: Bravo, Pique, Rakitic, Iniesta, Suarez, Messi, Neymar, Mascherano, Alba, Alves, Mathieu. Substitutions: Busquets (Rakitic, 76 mins), Xavi (Iniesta, 80 mins), Rafinha (Neymar, 85 mins).

Real Madrid: Casillas, Carvajal, Pepe, Ramos, Marcelo, Kroos, Modric, Isco, Bale, Ronaldo, Benzema. Substitutions: Varane (Pepe, 73 mins), Jese (Isco, 80 mins), Silva (Modric, 88 mins).

Man of the match: Karim Benzema

Match rating: 7/10

Referee: Miguel Mateu Lahoz

Attendance: 98, 775

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