Barcelona all but ended fierce rivals Real Madrid title hopes after a superb 3-0 win in the Santiago Bernabeú on Saturday afternoon and as ever Lionel Messi was at the centre of the action.
After an edgy first half that was probably shaded by the home side, Barcelona emerged from half much the better side and Messi gradually became a greater influence on the game.
The Argentinian had twice almost set up Paulinho for the opening goal but it was Sergi Roberto’s low cross that saw Luis Suárez slide in the first after 54 minutes. Soon after and Messi twice laid on chances for Suárez and in the ensuing scramble Dani Carvajal’s handball resulted in a red card and a penalty.
LIONEL MESSI. pic.twitter.com/sDP9lEFDqr
— LaLiga (@LaLigaEN) December 23, 2017
Messi slammed the ball past Keylor Navas for his 25th Clásico strike and although Madrid still posed a threat with ten men, Messi inspired a third. Darting past Marcelo down the right, the iconic number ten lost a boot in the process but still managed to cut the ball back for Aleix Vidal to score.
It is the first time that Barça have won three consecutive matches at the Bernabeú and while the Catalan club remain unbeaten at the top, Madrid are now 14 points adrift.
After reportedly growing frustrated at not starting every game, Sergio Agüero was in fine form as Manchester City made it 17 straight Premier League wins with victory over Bournemouth.
Agüero’s firm diving header broke the deadlock and at the start of the second half, City’s record goal scorer turned provider with a wonderful assist for Raheem Sterling. Agüero then nodded in his second of the game, to take City’s goal tally for the year to 100 and five minutes from time, Danilo completed the win.
Finally in Serie A, Mauro Icardi was unable to finish the year in the goals as the prolific striker missed a penalty during Inter’s 1-0 defeat to Sassuolo. After going until last week without losing a game, the Nerazzurri suffered consecutive defeats and are now five points off the top of the table.
— SerieAchannel (@SerieAchannel) December 23, 2017