Pique lifts Barca as Miami El Clasico lives up to hype
Miami, US - Gerard Pique delivered Barcelona's match winner over Real Madrid on Saturday as El Clasico Miami lived up to the hype.
The Spanish international steered in a Neymar free-kick in the 50th minute to seal a 3-2 win for the Catalan giants in front of 66,014 at the Hard Rock Stadium.
Lionel Messi, who put in a superb 64-minute performance, opened the scoring after just three minutes and when Ivan Rakitic doubled the lead soon after, the writing appeared to be on the wall for a sluggish Real Madrid side.
Yet Zinedine Zidane's side quickly woke from its slumber and by the end of the first half, goals from Mateo Kovacic and Marco Asensio had pulled them level. What followed was entertaining, often breathless friendly fare before Pique struck that decisive goal.
This was nothing more than a pre-season match and obviously wasn't going to affect the overall record between these two old rivals, which stands at 93 wins for Real, 91 for Barcelona - who had won their most recent meeting with Messi's last-gasp winner - his 500th for the club.
Madrid had the last laugh in May, winning Spanish League and the Champions League, but actually arrived in Miami off the back of two exhibition defeats - a penalty shootout defeat to
Manchester United before Manchester City also did a number on them in Los Angeles, running out 4-1 winners.
Barca, meanwhile, had beaten United and Juventus in International Champions Cup competition, but the ongoing uncertainty surrounding Neymar - and Paris Saint-Germain's reported readiness to make a US$256mn move for him - has cast a serious cloud over their two-week stay in North America.
Although Real came back from the early goals, Zidane was downbeat about his team's performance. But he said there was plenty of time to get things right before Madrid take on Manchester United in the UEFA Super Cup on August 8.
"Today was a game of two faces for us, one bad, one better," he said. "Ultimately we are preparing for the eighth - we will be ready."
Gerard Pique of Barcelona celebrates after scoring against Real Madrid at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami, US, on Saturday