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Bernabeu faithful hail Barcalona's Iniesta

Reuters , Sunday 22 Nov 2015
Andres Iniesta
Barcelona's Andres Iniesta celebrates with teammates after scoring his side’s third goal during the first clasico of the season between Real Madrid and Barcelona at the Santiago Bernabeu stadium in Madrid, Spain, Saturday, Nov. 21, 2015 (AP)
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Almost exactly 10 years after it first occurred the previously unthinkable happened again on Saturday -- Real Madrid fans got to their feet to applaud a Barcelona player during the 'Clasico' even though their team were losing.

Instead of the usual vitriol Barca players have had hurled at them at the Bernabeu stadium, when captain Andres Iniesta was substituted near the end of their 4-0 La Liga victory many of the Real faithful stood and clapped him off.

Iniesta had offered up a masterclass of creative midfield play, capped with a stunning strike into the top corner to make it 3-0 shortly after halftime.

Ronaldinho was given a similar reception in a La Liga game at Real's giant arena on November 19, 2005, when the Brazilian forward netted two superb goals in Barca's 3-0 success and the home fans stood to applaud.

It may have helped that Iniesta is a hero in Spain for the goal that won the 2010 World Cup but it nonetheless underlined the brilliance of the 31-year-old's performance that Real fans again cast aside their hatred for their rivals for a moment.

Iniesta made his 'Clasico' debut a year before Ronaldinho's double and has featured in 32 Real-Barca games, the most of any active player from either side.

He has won 14, drawn eight and lost 10 and Saturday's goal was his third against the Madrid side.

"He is part of our world heritage," Barca coach Luis Enrique told a news conference.

"We have the good fortune to have a unique player, who has eyes in the back of his head, at the service of the team," added the former Spain midfielder.

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