Real Madrid outplayed their rivals Barcelona in the first 45 minutes of El Clasico, but it didn't show on the scoreboard. Their early tally by Karim Benzema was cancelled out at the half-hour mark by Alexis Sanchez and the two teams had into the break even at 1-1. The goals haven't been the only excitement though, as a few yellow cards and some theatrical tumbling have incited the crowd at the Bernabeu to keep this always-heated match, well, heated.
It took just 21 seconds for Madrid to get on the board, but it was more about Victor Valdes than anyone for the home side. The normally sure-footed goalkeeper gave the ball to Angel di Maria just 25 yards from goal with a dreadful pass and di Maria found Mesut Ozil. Ozil's shot was blocked, but it fell to Benzema right in front of goal and the Frenchman hammered it home for a shockingly early goal.
Barcelona took the edge in possession for the rest of the half, but for the most part, it was not dangerous. It was passing deep in their own half and for Lionel Messi to even see the ball he had to drop to the halfway line. The Argentina got one chance when Sergio Ramos slipped, but Iker Casillas was there to make the save.
After Messi's chance, it was all Madrid. They pressured Barcelona and got some good opportunities, never better than when Benzema's brilliant pass put Cristiano Ronaldo in on goal. He had plenty of goal to shoot at, but he also has Ozil wide open to his right for a simple finish. Instead, he hit it well wide of the goal, wasting the golden opportunity.
Then in the midst of Madrid's dominance, Messi and Alexis Sanchez connected for a brilliant goal to level things. Messi dribbled through the Madrid midfield then slipped a fantastic ball into Sanchez, who was running diagonally across. Messi did most of the tough work, but Sanchez still had some work to do himself, which he did splendidly to open space for the shot before hitting it well to beat Casillas for the equalizer.
Some theatrics, mostly from Sanchez, only added to the intensity. The Chilean went to the turf in apparent agony time and time again, only for replays to show little to no contact. That certainly didn't please the crowd at the Bernabeu and Messi even picked up a yellow card for dissent before going in on a late challenge that certainly has him in the crosshairs of the referee for a sending off.
Odd bounces, weird mistakes, players slipping, great goals, theatrics and a possible sending off. Just another Clasico, and it's only been 45 minutes!
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