Cristiano Ronaldo played a decisive role in Real Madrid's 2-1 Clasico win over Barcelona on Saturday and is now the third-highest scorer in the fixture, a list Lionel Messi still tops with 21 goals.
The Argentinian continued his recent Clasico struggles, as he has now failed to score in his last five outings against Real, per Goal's Tom Beck. And with their star forward misfiring, the Blaugrana failed to get things going against Los Blancos at the Camp Nou.
Gerard Pique gave the hosts the lead in the second half, but Karim Benzema tied things up soon after, and even after Sergio Ramos's dismissal, Los Blancos looked the more dangerous team. Ronaldo's late goal was well deserved:
Here's a look at the updated Clasico statistics for Messi and Ronaldo:
|Clasico Stats: Lionel Messi vs. Cristiano Ronaldo|
Following the win, the gap between the two clubs in La Liga is now seven points. Real sit in third, one point behind Atletico Madrid.
The Blaugrana remain the clear favourites to win this year's title, but after Saturday's loss, some excitement has returned to the race. A single slip in the coming weeks could put Atletico within a single win, and with the way Real played in the Clasico, even Los Blancos can't be counted out.
Ronaldo Decisive As Real Snap Camp Nou Streak
Of El Clasico's biggest stars, Ronaldo certainly had the better night, scoring once and seeing an assist wrongfully disallowed. As shared by Infostrada Sports, his late winner moved him into third place on the Clasico scoring list, behind Messi and Alfredo Di Stefano:
Gracenote Live @GracenoteLive
1-2 (85') Cristiano Ronaldo's 16th goal in El Clásico. Outright third now behind Messi (21) and Di Stéfano (18). #clasico2016-4-2 20:16:41
Unlike many previous encounters between Spain's two biggest teams, Saturday's clash remained fairly close until Pique's opener. The first half featured more rash tackles than chances, and the forwards didn't touch the ball as often as you might have expected.
Ramos was lucky to still be on the pitch when Pique scored, and his late dismissal for a second bookable offence was more than just. But so was Ronaldo's winner, after Bale was denied a goal for what the official perceived as a foul during the build up.
As shared by ESPN Stats & Info, the 2-1 loss ended Barcelona's unbeaten streak:
ESPN Stats & Info @ESPNStatsInfo
Barcelona’s unbeaten streak (all comps) ended at Spanish club-record 39 games – 4 shy of Juventus’ streak, longest among top 5 Euro leagues2016-4-2 20:25:31
It also marked Real's first win at the Camp Nou in La Liga since 2012, per ESPN Stats & Info, a match in which Ronaldo also scored the winner.
El Clasico has been a tight affair for the past few years, with neither team able to go on a clear run and record a handful of wins in a row, but somewhat surprisingly, the scoring numbers between Ronaldo and Messi tell a different story.
The Argentinian might still be El Clasico's all-time top scorer, but as previously mentioned, he has failed to net in his last five contests with Real. On the other hand, Ronaldo's numbers against Barcelona appear to be trending upwards, per Sky Sports Statto:
Sky Sports Statto @SkySportsStatto
Cristiano Ronaldo scores his 16th #ElClasico goal, 14 of which have been in his last 17 apps v Barcelona https://t.co/Q9IrEILYSV2016-4-2 20:18:37
But while Saturday's Clasico belonged to Ronaldo and Real, Barcelona still hold a clear advantage in the Spanish title race. The Blaugrana have looked nearly unstoppable in the 2015-16 campaign, and their strong overall form is reason to believe they'll pick themselves up from this defeat and continue on their quest for another treble.
Their next challenge will be the first leg of their UEFA Champions League tie with Atletico, and limiting the fallout of Saturday's loss will be key. There can't be a hangover effect, as the Rojiblancos enter Tuesday's match in superb form coming off a 5-1 trashing of Real Betis.
Real will meet Wolfsburg on Wednesday, and manager Zinedine Zidane hopes the momentum of Saturday's win can help them in that match, per ESPN FC's Dermot Corrigan:
Dermot Corrigan @dermotmcorrigan
Zidane: “This can be a turning point - it is very important, for rest of season, for our spirit. And just before we play in CL in Germany”2016-4-2 20:44:07
The Champions League will be Real's best hope for a major trophy in the 2015-16 season, and there's a good chance Los Blancos will have to beat Barcelona on their way to winning the competition.