Luis Enrique made the entry to Barcelona's team sheet that the eyes of the football world were waiting for as Luis Suarez started, having served his four-month ban for biting Giorgio Chiellini during the World Cup.
The Uruguay star enjoyed a dream start to life in a Barcelona shirt as he laid on Neymar's fourth-minute opener, from which Real hit back ferociously - Karim Benzema passing up a host of chances in quick succession.
Lionel Messi's customary composure in front of goal deserted him before his great rival Cristiano Ronaldo levelled from the penalty spot before half-time after Gerard Pique blocked Marcelo's los cross with his arm.
That was the first league goal conceded by Barcelona this season but Pepe headed Carlo Ancelotti's team ahead five minutes into the second half and there was a party atmosphere at the Santiago Bernabeu when Benzema converted a brilliant 61st-minute counter-attack.
Real close to within a point of their historic foes at La Liga's summit after nine rounds, while Sevilla can go level with Barca if they beat Villarreal on Sunday.
A point behind Real are Valencia, who returned to winning ways at home to second-bottom Elche.
Valencia were beaten 3-0 by Deportivo La Coruna last week but Nuno Espirito Santo's men regrouped with a 3-1 victory at the Mestalla.
Two goals in a five-minute period from Shkodran Mustafi and Dani Parejo sent Valencia on their way in the first half, before a David Lomban own goal in the 63rd minute put the game beyond doubt.
Jonathas scored a consolation goal for the visitors in the third minute of injury time.
In other results, Athletic Bilbao eased the pressure on coach Ernesto Valverde with a hard-fought 1-0 win at Almeria.
In the midst of a nine-game winless streak in all competitions prior to kick-off, Bilbao were desperate for maximum points, and they got them thanks to Xabier Etxeita.
The Bilbao defender found the back of the net in the 56th minute to steer the club three points clear of the relegation zone.
Xisco Jimenez equalised three minutes from time as Cordoba climbed off the foot of the table after holding fellow strugglers Real Sociedad to a 1-1 draw.
Eibar and Granada also played out a 1-1 draw.
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