Real Madrid made it four wins from the last four El Clasico’s as they beat Barcelona 1-0 at the Camp Nou on Sunday.
Madrid piled renewed pressure on Barcelona coach Ronald Koeman as David Alaba scored a scintillating goal to open the scoring.
Alaba’s bending shot had his side in front for the majority of an end-to-end contest, with Lucas Vazquez making it two in injury-time before Sergio Aguero tapped in his first goal for Barcelona with seconds left.
Barca have now lost a fourth consecutive Clasico for the first time since 1965 and drop to ninth in La Liga, five points behind Madrid, who trail Real Sociedad by one.
After beating Valencia and winning a crucial Champions League game against Dynamo Kiev this week, it is a fresh set-back for Barca and Koeman, whose future will again come under scrutiny.
A first league meeting between these clubs without either Lionel Messi or Sergio Ramos since 2005 was more about the future.
For the first time in 65 years, six players younger than 22 began the game while Gavi, Barcelona’s 17-year-old midfielder, was the youngest Barca starter in a Clasico in almost a century.
But Real Sociedad regained their place at the top of La Liga after holding off Atletico Madrid’s late comeback to draw 2-2 in a thrilling game at the Wanda Metropolitano.
Luis Suarez scored twice in the second half, including a penalty, to salvage a point for Atleti, who edge up to fourth.
That match had more bearing at the top of the table, a sign of the times perhaps for La Liga, which could prove more open to challengers this season than for a long time.