Real hold on for a massive, massive win.
The win moves Real level with Atletico on 66 points, with Barca a point further adrift.
The Liga title race is bubbling up nicely and is tough to call. Barca appeared to have all the momentum but will need to fashion a response in the weeks ahead.
Zinedine Zidane’s side had done to them what they did to Liverpool four days before and are now top of La Liga.
Benzema’s net his 10th goal in 36 Clasicos and quite possibly his cleverest. Barcelona did not respond well with Pedri and Araujo both booked for fouls.
He was being closely marked by Araujo who was well-positioned goal-side – it didn’t matter because with a flash of his right heel he flicked the ball just inside Marc-Andre ter Stegen’s near post.
Araujo’s misdemeanor gifted Madrid a free-kick right on the edge of the area from which Kroos scored the second.
Ronald Koeman changed things at the break abandoning the back three and replacing right wing-back Dest with Griezmann.
The rain intensified and players and referee Jesus Gil lost their footing as the match continued to go from one end to the other.
Lucas cracked knees with Sergio Busquets in a thundering sliding collision and the Madrid man had to come off to be replaced by Alvaro Odriozola.
The rain was in Barcelona’s face as they looked for a way back into the game but they found it on the hour.
Their first half display had won them the game. Barcelona had responded to Karim Benzema and Toni Kroos’ goals with one from Oscar Mingueza but the home side took the points.
Alba crossed from the left, Griezmann dummied and Oscar Mingueza finished as best he could hanging out a leg and sending an awkward but highly effective shot past Courtois.
For Barcelona Dembele was now far happier flying down the right and a little more space was opening up for Messi who sent a free-kick into the wall.
With 20 minutes left Kroos, Benzema and Vinicius were all taken off with Isco, Mariano Diaz and Marcelo coming on.
Marcelo ran on holding three fingers aloft. Mendy would now play as the third centre-back and Marcelo, playing left wing-back, would help him deal with Dembele.
Ilaix and Sergio Roberto had come on for Barcelona and the former headed Messi’s cross goalwards only for Courtois to save.
Barcelona surrounded the referee when Mendy brushed Martin Braithwaite on the byline as the ball went beyond them both.
He exaggerated the contact but neither the referee nor VAR were moved to give them a penalty.
Casemiro saw red for a second bookable offence after fouling Mingueza, reducing the hosts to 10 men before added time.
Los Blancos have now produced their best two performances of the season in the campaign’s most important week.
Atletico Madrid can win on Sunday and regain top spot but Madrid look stronger than the rest with eight games left.