Two down, one to go. Barcelona have been beaten away and at home. Next up in Real Madrid’s season-defining eight-day week, the most important meeting of them all: Manchester United at Old Trafford. Sergio Ramos climbed to head in the winning goal from a Luka Modric corner to clinch a 2-1 victory after the introduction of Cristiano Ronaldo turned what was at risk of becoming a nonevent into something approaching a clásico. The Portuguese turned everything on its head. If he didn’t actually score, this time it did not matter; if everyone else seemed to have settled for a draw, his ambition remains undiminished.
In the final minute, Barcelona surrounded the referee, Miguel Pérez Lasa, to demand a penalty after Ramos appeared to trip Adriano, but he was not for turning. A draw escaped them to end a dreadful fortnight with defeats by Milan and twice by Madrid. As for Madrid, the threat has become promise. United are on the horizon – it is a journey they now look forward to.