By James Agberebi:
Lionel Messi reached a goalscoring milestone as Barcelona edged 10-man Real Madrid 3-2 in a thrilling LaLiga El Clasico clash at the Santiago Bernabeu on Sunday.
A last minute goal from Messi, his second of the game and 500th in his Barcelona career, sealed the important win for the visitors. Ivan Rakitic got Barcelona’s other goal while Casemiro and James Rodriguez scored for Madrid.
Barcelona are now level on 75 points with Madrid and are ahead on goals difference. Madrid however have a game in hand.
Barcelona had the first chance in the 11th minute through Luiz Suarez but his shot from the edge of the box went wide.
In the 20th minute, Madrid had their first real chance but Marc-Andre Tee Stegen got down quickly to stop Cristiano Ronaldo’s low shot from distance.
The game was halted a minute later as Messi received medical attention after Marcelo accidentally hit his face and left him bleeding from the nose.
In the 28th minute Madrid took the lead through Casemiro who scrambled Sergio Ramos’ rebound, which came off the post.
Barcelona were back on level terms on 33 minutes off a quick passing move which Messi expertly finished off after going past two players.
Madrid were forced into an early change before half-time as Gareth Bale went off injured and was replaced by Marco Asencio.
Messi had a golden opportunity to make it 2-1 in first-half added time but somehow failed to tap the ball into an empty net from a well delivered corner.
Madrid almost took the lead again one minute into the second half but Gerard Pique blocked Asencio’s dangerous cross.
Madrid went close again, this time through Toni Kroos, only to see his shot from the edge of the box palmed away by Ter Stegen.
Madrid kept mounting pressure on Barcelona’s defence and went close again in the 54th minute but Ter Stegen stopped Karim Benzema’s close range header with his foot.
Barcelona had a big chance on 56 minutes but Francisco Alcacer shot straight at Keylor Navas who saved with his legs.
In the 59th minute, Navas made a world class save as he parried away Pique’s point-blank shot from a corner.
Madrid would have gone ahead in the 67th minute off a counter but Ronaldo hit his effort just over the bar following Asencio’s well laid pass.
Barcelona responded a minute later through Luis Suarez but once again Navas produced a stunning point blank save.
In the 73rd minute Barcelona went 2-1 ahead following a superb left foot strike by Rakitic which flew past Navas.
With less than 15 minutes left Madrid were reduced to 10 men as Ramos was sent off following his dangerous tackle on Messi.
Pique should have wrapped the game up for Barcelona only for Navas to stop his goal bound shot from close range.
Despite playing a man down Madrid drew level on 86 minutes thanks to substitute Rodriguez who finished off Marcelo’s fine cross.
And in final seconds Messi sealed the win after smashing in Jordi Alba’s cutback for his 31st Liga goal of the season.