Barcelona, Spain (SportsNetwork.com) - Alexis Sanchez's goal 12 minutes from time proved to be the difference on Saturday as Barcelona held on for a nervy 2-1 win over Real Madrid at the Nou Camp in the season's first edition of El Clasico.
Barcelona, the reigning La Liga champions, entered the match riding a bit of a dip in form by their standards as the Catalans failed to score in their last league match, a scoreless draw against Osasuna.
Madrid, by contrast, were coming off a 2-0 win over Malaga last weekend and a 2-1 victory against Serie A side Juventus in the Champions League group stage on Wednesday.
Young starlet Neymar got his first taste of La Liga's best rivalry, as did Madrid superstar Gareth Bale, but it was Neymar that opened the scoring for Barcelona 19 minutes in.
Andres Iniesta got the eventual scoring play started with a quick touch pass to Neymar on the left side of the penalty area. The Brazilian then did the rest as he ripped a low right-footed strike past Madrid goalkeeper Diego Lopez.
Barcelona then doubled its lead with an individual piece of brilliance from Alexis in the 78th minute when he ran onto a long through ball from Neymar. Alexis turned, danced past his defender and struck a brilliant chip over the head of Lopez, who was caught way off his line.
Real Madrid pulled one back in stoppage time when youngster Jese fired one through the legs of Barcelona goalkeeper Victor Valdes, but it was too little, too late for Los Blancos as the Catalans held on for all three points.
The result sees Barcelona go four points clear at the top of La Liga on 28 points, while Real Madrid stays in third place on 22 points.
Celta Vigo 5, Malaga 0
Malaga, Spain - Alex Lopez scored on either side of the intermission on Saturday as Celta Vigo cruised to a 5-0 rout of Malaga at the Estadio La Rosaleda.
The visiting side snagged the lead after just six minutes when Lopez fired home his first of the day. Vigo then doubled its advantage in the 23rd minute through Augusto Fernandez and the club took its two-goal margin into the break.
Vigo kept the pressure up after the interval as Lopez completed his brace in the 64th minute. Nolito scored in the 73rd minute for Vigo and Charles completed the rout for the traveling side nine minutes from time.
Granada 1, Elche 0
Valencia, Spain - Manuel Iturra's first-half tally was enough to lift Granada to a 1-0 victory over Elche on Saturday at the Martinez Valero.
Granada came into the match needing a win after consecutive losses to Getafe and Villarreal in league play and was on the front foot from the outset. Granada got its reward for solid play in the 26th minute when Iturra got on the end of a cross from Fran Rico and nodded it home.
Elche was never able to break down the Granada backline and suffered its fourth defeat of the season to remain in 10th place on 12 points, while Granada rose to 11th, one behind Elche.
Levante 3, Espanyol 0
Valencia, Spain - Nabil El Zhar scored on either side of the intermission on Saturday as Levante cruised to a comfortable 3-0 win over Espanyol at the Ciutat de Valencia.
The hosts took the lead 25 minutes into proceedings when El Zhar collected his first of the match when he converted a penalty kick. Just two minutes later Levante doubled their advantage as Papa Diawara found the back of the net.
El Zhar put the result away when he completed his brace in the 51st minute to lift Levante to seventh place in La Liga on 16 points, while Espanyol drops to eighth on 14 points.