Madrid: Barcelona overcame the shock of conceding a goal after just 23 seconds to defeat bitter rivals Real Madrid 3-1 on Saturday in the first El Clasico of La Liga season and take top spot.

French striker Karim Benzema scored the early goal to give Real a 1-0 lead after a terrible clearance from Barcelona goalkeeper Victor Valdes.

Alexis Sanchez, who was chosen ahead of David Villa, levelled in the 30th minute after a sublime through ball from Lionel Messi.

A drive from Xavi in the 53rd minute took a wicked deflection off Marcelo and beyond the desperate reach of Iker Casillas in the Real goal as Barcelona went into a 2-1 lead.

Cesc Fabregas added the third in the 65th minute, scoring with a diving header from a fine cross by Dani Alves.

It was the former Arsenal man's 10th league goal of the campaign.

Real, who now trail Barca on goal difference and head-to-head, still have a game in hand over the reigning champions, but this result brought to an end a 15-match winning streak in all competitions for Jose Mourinho's side.

The home side were looking for a decisive blow in the title race with a victory which would have seen them open up a potential nine-point lead.