Barcelona beat Real Madrid on Sunday 3-2 in El Clasico as Lionel Messi score his 500th Barcelona goal. Messi had broken a three-year goalless drought against Madrid to cancel out Casemiro’s opener for Madrid in the first-half.
Referee Ivan Rakitic’s stunning strike and a red card for Madrid captain Sergio Ramos for chopping down Messi 13 minutes from time put Barca on course for victory before James Rodriguez came off the bench to level four minutes from time.
The match seemed to have swung decisively in Barca’s favour four minutes later when Ramos scythed down Messi to be shown the 22nd red card of his career.
However, even with 10 men, Madrid rallied and levelled when substitute James Rodriguez swept home Marcelo’s cross four minutes from time.Casemiro and James Rodriguez were on target for Real, who had captain Sergio Ramos sent-off for a foul on Messi 13 minutes from time.
However, fittingly, Messi had the final say with a brilliant finish deep into stoppage time to lift Barcelona’s hopes of a third straight La Liga title. Victory takes Barca top of the table thanks to their better head-to-head record with both sides locked on 75 points, but Madrid have a game in hand.
“He is the best player for me in history and I have seen a lot of football,” said Barca boss Luis Enrique as he celebrated victory in his final Clasico in charge.
“The fact he has scored his 500th goal shows all of us as Barca fans are lucky to have him identified with the club.”
However, Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane lamented his side’s inability to see the game out with a man less at 2-2 that would have seen them remain very much in the driving seat for a first title in five years.
“At 2-2 we should have used our heads more,” said the Frenchman. Cristiano Ronaldo had strong appeals for a penalty waived away inside two minutes after he appeared to have been clipped by Samuel Umtiti.
Shortly after Messi was left floored and bloodied after being caught by a stray elbow from Marcelo.
The Argentine was still down by Ronaldo drilled another fine effort towards goal that Marc-Andre ter Stegen did well to parry to safety. Unsurprisingly given both Madrid’s potency and Barca’s inability to defend set-pieces, the opener arrived from a dead ball.