x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

'Real Madrid will bounce back,' says Barcelona coach Guardiola

Goala from Alexis Sanchez, Xavi and Cesc Fabregas cancel out the fatest ever el clasico goal from Karim Benzema.

Goalscorers Cesc Fabregas and Xavi Hernandez celebrate.
Goalscorers Cesc Fabregas and Xavi Hernandez celebrate.

Pep Guardiola declared himself delighted after his Barcelona recorded a 3-1 victory over arch-rivals Real Madrid at the Bernabeu but warned Jose Mourinho's side will quickly bounce back in the title race.

Barca conceded after only 23 seconds as Karim Benzema gave the hosts a dream start with the fastest ever el clasico goal, but Alexis Sanchez levelled before the break and in the second half a Xavi's shot took a huge deflection from Marcelo and a Cesc Fabregas header made sure of the points.

They move back to the top of the table, level on points with Madrid, who had won 15 straight and still have a game in hand as Barca head to Japan for the Club World Cup.

"I am delighted with the performance," Guardiola said. "Madrid will recover. To win here, you have to play a very good game and we have done that. But there is still much to do and Madrid will again be the leader if they beat Sevilla. There are no champions in December."

Guardiola also voiced confidence in his goalkeeper Victor Valdes, who gave the ball away for the opening goal and looked shaky in the early going before making some crucial saves later on.

"Winning here is always worthwhile and challenging, and you can see that in the performance of Valdes, who after conceding early has not taken another hit," he said.

Mourinho put the defeat down to luck, pointing to a Cristiano Ronaldo miss that could have given his side an early 2-0 lead and changed the complexion of the game.

"Luck plays a part," he said. "When it was 1-0, we could easily have gone 2-0 up and maybe under normal circumstances we would do, but Cristiano has put it wide.

"The first half was balanced. The second goal would have been pure luck and not about talent or failure."

The Portuguese also said that Barcelona's star forward Leo Messi might have been sent off on another night, having escaped a booking for a late challenge, minutes after being cautioned for dissent.

"I thought Messi could have been sent off, but until I see it again I won't say more in case I'm wrong," Mourinho said.