Real Madrid 0 Barcelona 3: Bernabeu forced to pay homage as Ronaldinho soars above the galacticos

Patrick McCurdy
Monday 21 November 2005 01:00 GMT

This was not just a dazzling victory for Barcelona, it was also a complete humiliation of their arch rivals. The Catalans cruelly exposed Real Madrid's galacticos in front of their own fans and proved that it is they who are the true exponents of the "beautiful game".

Barcelona's dazzling performance came complete with a virtuoso double from the brilliant Ronaldinho, a stunning strike from the electric Samuel Eto'o and a spine-tingling exhibition of talent from the world's most exciting youngster, Lionel Messi.

So complete, so absolute, was Barça's victory that Ronaldinho was actually given a standing ovation by the Bernabeu after his second goal, a tribute only the great Diego Maradona had ever been granted previously as a Barcelona player at the Real stadium, although, on this occasion, this was also designed as a stinging rebuke for their own team.

In truth, though, the Madridistas had little choice but to pay homage to the Brazilian genius after his magical display. "It was a perfect game," Ronaldinho said. "I will never forget this because it is very rare for any footballer to be applauded in this way by the opposition fans."

The Real Madrid midfielder Guti gave the most eloquent assessment of the impact the Catalan victory had on his side. "It is the most painful defeat I've experienced at Real," he said. "There are no excuses but as a Madridista I'm sad and hurt by the fact that we gave such a poor display and that our fans ended up cheering the opposition. We showed no guts, no attitude."

It took all of 15 minutes for Real Madrid's worst fears to be confirmed when Eto'o, the player the Real president Florentino Perez refused to allow to return to the club at the start of last season, opened the scoring by helping himself to yet another goal at the Bernabeu.

The Cameroon international has become an expert at dynamiting the hopes of his former club and Saturday was no exception. Snapping the ball off the feet of team-mate Messi after the Argentinian had surged past Roberto Carlos towards the area, he spun inside three Real defenders and toe-poked the ball past Iker Casillas.

Eto'o dashed across to the corner flag below the president's box, raised his arm in the air, pointed to the Barcelona crest on his shirt and then to the pitch to underline the mistake Perez had made in letting him go.

Barcelona then proceeded to play the role of tormentors as they toyed with Real for the rest of the half, making their humiliated opponents chase shadows around the Bernabeu's vast expanses.

Real were not just unable to compete, they were outclassed. Zinedine Zidane looked a sad shadow of the player he once was as he lumbered around in midfield, committing needless fouls; Ronaldo and Robinho barely had a sniff of the ball; and David Beckham gave a rudderless display in a central midfield role.

Ronaldinho, who should add the European Footballer of the Year award to his collection next week, then put their opponents out of their misery with two wonderful goals midway through the second half.

His first came when he picked up the ball up some 40 metres out on the left, left Real's £18m centre-back Sergio Ramos sprawling on the grass with a quick shuffle of the feet, skipped past Ivan Helguera with a swivel of the hips and fired a perfectly placed shot past Casillas into the far corner.

The Brazilian repeated the trick in the 78th minute when he waltzed his way past Ramos again, darted into the area and curled the ball past Casillas to wrap up the most emphatic Catalan triumph at the Bernabeu since Johan Cruyff masterminded his side's 5-0 demolition of Real 21 years ago.

Goals: Eto'o (15) 0-1, Ronaldinho (60) 0-2, Ronaldinho (78) 0-3.

Real Madrid (4-4-2): Casillas; Salgado, Ramos, Helguera, Roberto Carlos; Garcia (Baptista, 63), Beckham, Raul (Guti, 57), Zidane; Robinho, Ronaldo. Substitutes not used: Lopez (gk), Bravo, Mejia, Pavon, Diogo

Barcelona (4-3-3): Valdes; Oleguer, Edmilson, Puyol, Van Bronckhorst; Marquez, Xavi, Deco; Messi (Iniesta, 69), Ronaldinho, Eto'o Substitutes not used: Jorquera (gk), Silvinho, Gabri, Motta, Giuly, Larsson.

Referee: E Iturralde Gonzalez.

Booked: Real Salgado, Robinho, Garcia; Barcelona Deco, Ronaldinho.

Man of the match: Ronaldinho.

Attendance: 75,000.

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