Zlatan Ibrahimovic came off the bench to volley 10-man Barcelona to a 1-0 home victory over Real Madrid on Sunday which put them back on top of La Liga.
The visitors successfully frustrated Barca until substitute Ibrahimovic made the breakthrough by smashing a volley past Iker Casillas in the 56th minute. Shortly afterwards, Barca midfielder Sergio Busquets foolishly picked up his second yellow card to leave his side a man short for almost 30 minutes.
However, Real could not make the extra man count in a pulsating finish and champions Barcelona went to the top with 30 points from 12 games, two ahead of Real who slipped back to second.
There were five candidates for the 2009 Ballon d'Or on display at the start, with favourite for the award Lionel Messi, Xavi and Andres Iniesta in the starting XI for Barca. Another candidate, Ibrahimovic, was on the bench after his recent thigh strain. Real, who have invested around 250 million euros ($373 million) in new signings over the close season, fielded Kaka and Ronaldo, even though the Portuguese winger had played only 20 minutes since his two-month layoff with an injury.
Inter clear as Cagliari stun Juve
Minnows Cagliari stunned Juventus 2-0 allowing leaders Inter Milan to open up a seven-point lead at the top of Serie A following a controversial 1-0 success over Fiorentina on Sunday.
AC Milan moved up to second place after Dutch flop Klaas-Jan Huntelaar finally came good and scored two goals deep into injury time to secure a crucial 2-0 victory at Catania.
Juve’s title chances took a serious hit as they were well beaten by an energetic Cagliari team who won their fifth match in six — their only defeat in that spell a thrilling 4-3 reverse at the San Siro against Milan.
It means Juve now have a must win clash at home to Inter next weekend, but coach Ciro Ferrara was more interested about the points lost this week.
Inter dominated Fiorentina but needed a helping hand from the referee. Sulley Muntari had two good chances for Inter but twice shot wide.