Suspended Madrid star Cristiano Ronaldo was barely missed as a Marco Asensio screamer made it 1-0 on just four minutes, Karim Benzema added a second before half-time and although Barca improved after the break they never looked close to a comeback. The victory was even more impressive given coach Zinedine Zidane had shuffled his squad and left usual starters Gareth Bale, Isco and Casemiro on the bench.
Barca’s chances of overturning the 1-3 deficit were pretty much gone before the game had settled down. A rushed Samuel Umtiti clearance fell to Asensio 35 yards from goal. He took a touch, steadied himself and launched a “folha seca” right into the far top corner. Barcelona goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen watched motionless, with the Bernabeu also awestruck at the youngster’s latest moment of magic.
Lots of players have trademark goals, but little more than a year into his top-class career, Asensio is earning a reputation as someone who regularly just sticks the ball right in the top corner from well outside the penalty area. Even at 21, he now looks more likely to light up a game with a golazo than Bale, or even Ronaldo himself.
With Barcelona stunned, a second goal was coming. Benzema robbed a napping Javier Mascherano and played in surprise starter Lucas Vazquez, who struck a post. Soon afterward Sergio Busquets was dispossessed near his own area, and seconds later the Frenchman nipped in front of his countryman Umtiti to flick the ball up and dispatch an eight-yard volley into the net.
Barca tried to hit back in the second half, with both Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez hitting the woodwork. But it was plain sailing really from an all-powerful Madrid who must surely be favourites to win everything — at home and abroad — this season.