It’s very rare occasion when an opposition player is applauded by Real Madrid fans. The La Liga club boasts one of the biggest fan bases in football, but the Madridistas are known to be demanding and unforgiving when it comes to results. Even the best players have faced the wrath of their fans and the likes of Zinedine Zidane, Cristiano Ronaldo, Raul Gonzalez, Gareth Bale have all been at the receiving end.

But on 19 November, 2005, Real Madrid fans witnessed something spectacular from a rival player which prompted them to give him a standing ovation. It was none other than Ronaldinho, after he delivered a masterclass in the first El Clasico during that season. Before that, Argentine great Diego Maradona was the only player from Barcelona who had received such a tribute from the Santiago Bernabeu faithful.

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Ronaldinho led his side to a comfortable 3-0 victory that night, handing Real Madrid at a drubbing their home ground. That Brazillian midfielder would win Ballon d’Or the next month and that Clasico display encapsulated why he deserved to bag the award.

He was unstoppable that night. He ran circles around the Madrid defense, danced passed defenders and scored goals for fun as if it was just a practice session for him. He delivered a performance for the ages, leading Barcelona to a sparkling win over the fiercest rivals.

Ronaldinho steals the show

Following an inconsistent start to the season before the derby, Barcelona were placed second in La Liga with 22 points after 11 games. Real Madrid sat in third place, just one point behind, with Osasuna leading the race.

Both sides boasted a host of star players and the first Clasico of the season was going to be crucial for in the title race. But Ronaldinho proved to be the difference between the two sides in the end.

Despite not managing to find the net, Ronaldinho was on top of his game as Barcelona dominated the first half. The midfielder proved to be a handful for Madrid’s defence, running at markers with ease and creating a plethora of chances.

He began the show with a ridiculous no-look long-range pass in the opening minutes, picking up Samuel Eto’o in the final third, but the Cameroonian missed his shot as his effort went inches wide off the post.

Eto’o soon redeemed himself as he opened the scoring within 15 minutes, picking a pass from young Lionel Messi and making a sharp turn surrounded by three defenders before toe-poking the ball past Real Madrid goalkeeeper Iker Casillas.

However, it was the second half where Ronaldinho truly stamped his authority on the game as he piled misery on the Galacticos, whose night turned from bad to worse.

His opening goal came just before the hour mark when he received the ball at the half-line from Giovanni van Bronckhorst and skipped past Sergio Ramos before advancing to the left channel. With the drop of a shoulder, Ronaldinho then beat Ivan Helguera and cut inside before placing his shot past Casillas into the far corner.

In the 78th minute Ronaldinho doubled his tally, making this goal look easier as the home side’s defense capitulated. Deco made a pass to the playmaker on the left and the Barcelona No 10 breezed past Ramos again, making a darting run before curling the ball past the keeper to seal the game in his side’s favour.

While Barcelona had bagged the three points at the full-time whistle, Real Madrid were not just beaten, they were outplayed. Their frontline rarely had a sniff of the ball, Pablo Garcia and David Beckham were run ragged in midfield while their defense seemed to have no answers to Barcelona’s attack.

The aftermath

With that victory, Barcelona exposed the chinks in Real Madrid’s armour and Madrid supporters were left with no choice but to pay homage to Ronaldinho.

“It was a perfect game,” Ronaldinho told Barcelona TV after the game. “I will never forget this because it is very rare for any footballer to be applauded in this way by the opposition fans.”

Real Madrid midfielder Guti explained how the defeat impact him. He said: “It is the most painful defeat I’ve experienced at Real. There are no excuses but as a Madridista I’m sad and hurt by the fact that we gave such a poor display and that our fans ended up cheering the opposition. We showed no guts, no attitude.”

Ronaldinho later guided Barcelona to La Liga and ​Champions League titles that season, cementing his reputation as an icon for the Blaugranas. And that Clasico game was the true testament to how great he was.

Watch the full match here: