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El Clásico: Suarez hits hat-trick as Barça blow away Real Madrid

Barcelona ran riot to win the Clasico 5-1 on Sunday as Luis Suarez scored the hat-trick that will surely spell the end of Julen Lopetegui's time as Real Madrid coach.

El Clásico: Suarez hits hat-trick as Barça blow away Real Madrid
Suarez waves at the end of the match after scoring a hat-trick. Photo: AFP

Barcelona were dominant at the Camp Nou for all-but a 15-minute period after half-time when the otherwise hapless Madrid briefly threatened a comeback.

All the failures that have underlined their recent problems under Lopetegui were on show here, poor finishing, dreadful defending and key players performing well below par, let alone at their best.

There was also some bad luck, as Luka Modric hit the post at 2-1, while Suarez's second was a penalty, awarded only after consultation with the Video Assistant Referee.

Philippe Coutinho had scored the first and Arturo Vidal finished a late flurry but in between the game belonged to Suarez, who terrorised Madrid and made light of Lionel Messi's injury-enforced absence.

“We have to be proud of having the best player in the world,” Suarez said.

“But we have shown that we are a great team and that we have a great coach too.”

For Lopetegui, it is now one win in six games, as Madrid stay ninth, seven points behind Barcelona, who return to the top of the table.    

This defeat was reminiscent of the 4-0 thrashing that spelt the end for Rafael Benitez in 2016. Benitez survived two more months, Lopetegui may not last the week. 

Much was made of this being the first Clasico without either Messi or Cristiano Ronaldo in 11 years but Suarez's masterclass will mean it lives long in the memory, particularly for him, coming five days after the birth of his third child. “It makes me very happy,” Suarez said.

Madrid looked dazed in possession and dizzy out of it as Barça repeatedly opened them up down the left.

Jordi Alba created the opener as he zoomed past both Gareth Bale and Nacho, before finding Coutinho by the penalty spot. It was the move's 30th pass, the most for a goal in a La Liga Clasico in 13 seasons. 


Real Madrid's Brazilian defender Marcelo (L) is hugged by Real Madrid's Spanish coach Julen Lopetegui as he leaves the pitch . Photo: AFP

Lopetegui motionless

On the touchline, Lopetegui stood motionless. Raphael Varane clapped but his team-mates looked shell-shocked. Sergio Ramos thrashed a pass across his own box to Nacho, who hacked it to the feet of Arthur, his shot parried away by Thibaut Courtois.

Still, Barça needed the help of VAR for the second. Suarez was too quick at the near post and Varane bundled him over. It was a clear penalty, which Suarez converted for his seventh goal in 11 games against these opponents. His eighth and ninth were still to come. 

Gerard Pique should have headed in while a promising Madrid free-kick somehow ended with another Barça sprawl on the counter-attack. The visitors were fortunate to be only two down at half-time.

Varane was taken off, with a muscle problem the club said, for Lucas Vazquez, and he was key to Madrid's goal, his disguised pass allowing Isco to pick out Marcelo, who finished for his third in three games.

Suddenly, it was Barça making the mistakes. Ramos headed over, Modric hit the inside of the post and Isco's finish was blocked after Rafinha ran into trouble.

Madrid were still nervy at the back, where Suarez acrobatically volleyed onto the post and then landed the knock-out blow.   

Sergi Roberto chipped a cross into the box but the ball had neither the pace nor the angle to be headed in easily. Suarez, however, generated both himself to leave Courtois stranded.

If that was a masterclass in adaptation, his third was a demonstration of finesse. Ramos was pushed off the ball by Sergi Roberto, who freed Suarez. Suarez feathered the ball over Courtois for his hat-trick.

Madrid were finished but the humiliation was not complete as Ousmane Dembele crossed for Vidal to head home a fifth. Suarez could even have had a fourth in injury-time but Courtois saved. Five was more than enough.

By AFP's Thomas Allnut 

READ ALSO: Lopetegui the fall-guy for wider malaise at Madrid

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Putellas becomes second Spanish footballer in history to win Ballon d’Or

Alexia Putellas of Barcelona and Spain won the women's Ballon d'Or prize on Monday, becoming only the second Spanish-born footballer in history to be considered the best in the world, and claiming a win for Spain after a 61-year wait.

FC Barcelona's Spanish midfielder Alexia Putellas poses after being awarded thewomen's Ballon d'Or award.
FC Barcelona's Spanish midfielder Alexia Putellas poses after being awarded thewomen's Ballon d'Or award. Photo: FRANCK FIFE / AFP

Putellas is the third winner of the prize, following in the footsteps of Ada Hegerberg, who won the inaugural women’s Ballon d’Or in 2018, and United States World Cup star Megan Rapinoe, winner in 2019.

Putellas captained Barcelona to victory in this year’s Champions League, scoring a penalty in the final as her side hammered Chelsea 4-0 in Gothenburg.

She also won a Spanish league and cup double with Barca, the club she joined as a teenager in 2012, and helped her country qualify for the upcoming Women’s Euro in England.

Her Barcelona and Spain teammate Jennifer Hermoso finished second in the voting, with Sam Kerr of Chelsea and Australia coming in third.

It completes an awards double for Putellas, who in August was named player of the year by European football’s governing body UEFA.

But it’s also a huge win for Spain as it’s the first time in 61 years that a Spanish footballer – male or female – is crowned the world’s best footballer of the year, and only the second time in history a Spaniard wins the Ballon d’Or. 

Former Spanish midfielder Luis Suárez (not the ex Liverpool and Barça player now at Atlético) was the only Spanish-born footballer to win the award in 1960 while at Inter Milan. Argentinian-born Alfredo Di Stefano, the Real Madrid star who took up Spanish citizenship, also won it in 1959.

Who is Alexia Putellas?

Alexia Putellas grew up dreaming of playing for Barcelona and after clinching the treble of league, cup and Champions League last season, her status as a women’s footballing icon was underlined as she claimed the Ballon d’Or on Monday.

Unlike the men’s side, Barca’s women swept the board last term with the 27-year-old, who wears “Alexia” on the back of her shirt, at the forefront, months before Lionel Messi’s emotional departure.

Attacker Putellas, who turns 28 in February, spent her childhood less than an hour’s car journey from the Camp Nou and she made her first trip to the ground from her hometown of Mollet del Valles, for the Barcelona derby on January 6, 2000.

Barcelona's Spanish midfielder Alexia Putellas (R) vies with VfL Wolfsburg's German defender Kathrin Hendrich
Putellas plays as a striker for Barça and Spain. GABRIEL BOUYS / POOL / AFP

Exactly 21 years later she became the first woman in the modern era to score in the stadium, against Espanyol. Her name was engraved in the club’s history from that day forward, but her story started much earlier.

She started playing the sport in school, against boys.

“My mum had enough of me coming home with bruises on my legs, so she signed me up at a club so that I stopped playing during break-time,” Putellas said last year.

So, with her parent’s insistence, she joined Sabadell before being signed by Barca’s academy.

“That’s where things got serious… But you couldn’t envisage, with all one’s power, to make a living from football,” she said.

After less than a year with “her” outfit, she moved across town to Espanyol and made her first-team debut in 2010 before losing to Barca in the final of the Copa de la Reina.

She then headed south for a season at Valencia-based club Levante before returning “home” in July 2012, signing for Barcelona just two months after her father’s death.

In her first term there she helped Barca win the league and cup double, winning the award for player of the match in the final of the latter competition.

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