Raphinha made it two goals in two
matches as Barcelona defeated Real Madrid 1-0 on Saturday in their Las Vegas Clasico.
Raphinha, signed from Premier League Leeds United earlier this month for
around $60 million, followed up his debut in a 6-0 thrashing of Inter Miami
with the lone goal of the high-profile clash at Allegiant Stadium, the $1.97
billion, 65,000-seat home of the NFL’s Las Vegas Raiders.
The Brazilian was perfectly placed to intercept an ill-advised pass from
Real’s Eder Militao along the top of the area. After one touch to settle he
lashed a left-footed shot over Thibaut Courtois into the top right corner of
the net to put Barcelona up 1-0 in the 27th minute
The fourth edition of the Clasico to be played outside of Spain — the second
ever held in the United States — featured all the intensity of the long
Real Madrid, playing their first pre-season friendly, nearly opened the
scoring in the 18th minute but Federico Valverde was denied by the post in
the 18th minute, seizing the ball after a poor clearance by Jordi Alba and
blasting a volley from 25 yards out that beat Marc-Andre Ter Stegen only for
the upright to intervene.
Two minutes later it was Barcelona who saw a chance get away when Eduardo
Camavinga lost possession to Pedri in front of Real’s goal. Pedri found Fati,
who pulled Real keeper Thibaut Courtois off his line but put his shot just
wide of the far post.
Overall it was Barcelona — energized by the debut of Polish striker Robert
Lewandowski after his move from Bayern Munich — who controlled the tempo in the first half against the reigning Champions League and La Liga title holders.
The first half ended on a testy note after Jordi Alba’s sliding tackle on
Militao that earned a yellow card.
Some jawing and shoving escalated, with players having to step in and
separate Madrid newcomer Antonio Rudiger and Barcelona’s Ronald Araujo.
Lewandowski’s night ended without a goal as he was departed at the half,
replaced by Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang as part of a raft of changes at the
Aubameyang had a chance just two minutes into the second half with a header from the center of the area off a cross by Raphinha but missed it left.
A back and forth between substitute Marco Asensio and defender Lucas Vazquez gave Real Madrid a golden opportunity in the 59th minute, but after Vazquez played the ball back to Asensio in front of goal he pulled his shot wide.
They pressed desperately in the closing minutes for an equalizer, but Carlo
Ancelotti’s side clearly missed French star Karim Benzema, who was granted an extended holiday by the club and sat out the contest after joining up with
his teammates in Los Angeles just days before.
Real Madrid continue their US tour on Tuesday against Mexico’s Cub America at
San Francisco’s Oracle Park baseball venue while Barcelona take on Italian
giants Juventus in Dallas on the same night.
Both play again on July 30, when Barcelona take on Major League Soccer’s New York Red Bulls and Real Madrid play Juventus.