Estadio Santiago Bernabéu, Madrid, Spain
75′ Ramos Sent off
Barcelona kept their La Liga title hopes alive after they came from a goal behind to defeat ten-men Real Madrid 3-2 in a heated El Clásico away at the Estadio Santiago Bernabéu.
Lionel Messi struck late in the 92nd minute to score his 500th Barcelona goal and send the Catalan side to the top of the league at the expense of their arch-rivals, who earlier had skipper Sergio Ramos sent off, seeing red for a two-footed challenge on the Argentine. Messi had earlier cancelled out Casemiro’s opener after the half-hour mark before curling home right at the death after substitute James Rodríguez looked to have salvaged a point for Madrid, who had fallen behind after a fine strike from Ivan Rakitić.
The hosts started well and thought they should have had a penalty in the opening minute when Cristiano Ronaldo was sent tumbling in the area by Samuel Umtiti but the referee was unmoved.
In the tenth minute the visitors went close when Luis Suárez received the ball just outside the area to fire an effort just wide of the far-post.
Seven minutes later the hosts had a good chance when Luka Modrić found Karim Benzema, who surged forward before firing an effort at-goal, but it was tame and Marc-André Ter Stegen saved with ease.
Two minutes later Ronaldo went close when he cut-inside to fire an effort at-goal that Ter Stegen palmed away.
In the 28th minute the hosts took the lead when Casemiro fired the ball home, following-up after Sergio Ramos’ volley struck the post from a Marcelo cross following a corner.
However Madrid’s lead lasted barely five minutes as the Catalans drew level through Messi, who received the ball from Rakitić before brilliantly beating two players and firing home past Keylor Navas.
Two minutes later Madrid went close when Modrić’s effort from-range forced Ter Stegen into a fine save with the keeper palming the strike away.
In the 39th minute the visitors nearly went ahead when Messi surged into the area before firing an effort inches wide of the far-post.
On the stroke of half-time, Barcelona should have scored after Navas misjudged a Rakitić corner, the Costa-Rican was caught in no-man’s-land, missing the ball completely with the loose ball falling to Messi, who somehow fired the ball wide from close-range.
Seven minutes into the restart the hosts had a good chance when Benzema met a teasing delivery from Marcelo with a header but his effort was instinctively smothered away by the feet of the keeper, although Benzema should have done better.
Three minutes later the visitors had good chance to take the lead when Rakitić fed Paco Alcácer, who had time and space but his effort was straight at Navas, who smothered the ball away with his feet.
Three minutes later Barcelona went close again when Gerard Piqúe met a Rakitić corner with a powerful header but Navas brilliantly palmed the ball away.
In the 66th minute Madrid should have taken the lead when substitute Marco Asensio surged forward before squaring the ball to Ronaldo, who had to score, but he fired the ball over the bar from close-range.
Barcelona nearly capitalised when Andrés Iniesta found Suárez with a fine cross-field pass, the Uruguayan had just Navas to beat but his volley was brilliantly palmed behind by the keeper.
Real Madrid were made to rue Ronaldo’s earlier missed opportunity as six minutes later, the visitors took the lead. Rakitić shifted the ball onto his left-foot to fire a powerful curling-strike into the top-corner.
Matters got worse for the hosts, who were then reduced to ten-men after Ramos received a straight red card for a two-footed challenge on Messi. Despite the Spaniard not catching the Argentine, he was reckless and had both feet off the ground.
Four minutes later the visitors looked to take advantage of the extra player when substitute André Gomes’ pull-back found Piqué, who had just Navas to beat but the keeper smothered the ball away, to once again keep his side in the game.
In the 85th minute Madrid found an equaliser when substitute Rodríguez arrived onto Marcelo’s teasing delivery to fire the ball home past Ter Stegen.
The goal looked to have given Madrid a new lease of life as the momentum swung in the hosts’ favour. Three minutes later Asensio surged forward to fire an effort at-goal that Ter Stegen was forced to palm away at his near-post.
As Madrid surged forward for the winner, they left themselves exposed in defence and in the final minute of injury-time, Barcelona capitalised. Sergi Roberto led the Catalan’s counter-attack, evading two challenges before finding Jordi Alba, whose pull-back fell to Messi, who curled the ball home past Navas to win the game. The goal was the Argentine’s 500th for the Blaugrana.
The result meant that Barcelona leapfrogged Real Madrid to the top of La Liga and go level on points with 75 points. The Catalan side go above on head-to-head but Madrid have a game in-hand and can go back on top should they defeat Celta de Vigo away.