FC Barcelona 0-2 Real Madrid CF
Goals from Zinedine Zidane and Steve McManaman put Real Madrid CF on course for the UEFA Champions League final as the beat FC Barcelona 2-0 in the first leg of their semi-final.
Madrid won 2-0 at the Camp Nou tonight, their first victory in the famous stadium for almost 19 years, after soaking up plenty of Barcelona pressure, particularly in the first half. The hosts started brightly and created several clear-cut chances. Dutch international Patrick Kluivert almost opened the scoring in the eighth minute but saw his shot saved by the legs of keeper César Sánchez after he had stepped inside Iván Helguera and Michel Salgado.
Luis Enrique goes close
Luis Enrique was centimetres away from giving his side the lead five minutes later but hit the Madrid crossbar with a header after rising above Fernando Hierro to meet a Fabio Rochemback corner. Raúl González, unusually quiet throughout the half, had the visitors' best chance as he raced on to a pass from Helguera only to see Barcelona keeper Roberto Bonano claw the ball away.
The hosts continued to take the game to Madrid and Kluivert went close again as he fired over after neat build-up play between Marc Overmars and Javier Saviola. It really was one-way traffic in the opening period as Madrid, without the suspended Luis Figo, found their attacking options stifled by a hard-working Barcelona. Frank de Boer and Abelardo Fernández marked Raúl tightly and Zidane was well marshalled by Philip Cocu.
Rochemback, Barcelona's Brazilian midfield prospect, was impressive and was only just wide with his snap shot after a neat one-two with Luis Enrique. The Catalan club, missing Rivaldo through injury, dominated much of the possession but failed to break the deadlock, despite further chances for Thiago Motta and Rochemback.
The second half saw Barcelona begin the way the had left off, as Overmars screwed a shot just wide seconds after the restart. Just as it looked as if Madrid would continue to struggle, they scored against the run of play to stun the home fans. Raúl carved the home defence wide open and Zidane raced clear, shaking off the attentions of Cocu for the first time. As Bonano advanced and Cocu tracked back, the France midfield player chipped over the keeper into the gaping net.
Luis Enrique almost drew Barcelona level immediately, but headed an Overmars cross centimetres wide of César Sánchez's goal. Guti could, and should, have doubled Madrid's lead on the hour mark but poked his effort wide after Roberto Carlos had sent in a low centre from the left. The goal seemed to boost Madrid's confidence and they fast became the side who looked the more dangerous on the break.
Santiago Solari, impressive throughout in the Madrid midfield, then went close with a superb solo effort as he beat substitute Philippe Christanval down the left but curled his shot into the body of Bonano. Guti was then replaced by McManaman after wasting another glorious chance, and the English international wasted no time in announcing his arrival and, having broken clear once already, made Barcelona pay for their cavalier tactics.
McManaman on target
As the hosts pushed men forward in search of an equalising goal, Raúl held the ball up midway inside the Barcelona half before feeding Flavio Conceição. He in turn played the ball square to McManaman, who held his nerve to scoop the ball high over a sprawling Bonano.
Madrid have two vital away goals and will be clear favourites as they look to make home advantage count in the second leg next week. Barcelona will be hopeful that Rivaldo can return for their visit to the capital, as they will have to call on all their reserves of strength and character to find a way back into the tie.