Real Madrid 2-3 Barcelona, the tally was enough to cut open the La Liga title race on Sunday after a classic El Clasico. Santiago Bernabeu witnessed one of the most exciting football matches of this season where there was literally a bloodbath.
The match started with a slow pace but the frenetic energy that is often accompanied with an El Classico was still there. Barcelona was trying to settle with their new tactical lineup due to the suspension of Neymar while Real Madrid was not at all giving them the time to find their groove. The hosts definitely have the better chances in the first half but Marc-Andre Ter Stegen, the Barcelona goalkeeper, was putting in a strong effort to defend his wall, including stonewalling Cristiano Ronaldo’s strike during the initial stages.
The lack of defensive calm cost Barcelona the opener, though when three Madrid players were set free inside the box when Sergio Ramos was on the ball and his shot banged off the post but Ter Stegen couldn’t manage to return for Casemiro’s rebound in the 28th minute.
But one thing that Real Madrid did wrong was angering Lionel Messi. The ‘Little Guy’ was left bleeding after getting hit with a high elbow from Marcelo during a header challenge. Messi then played with a cotton ball in his mouth and that was it for Zinedine Zidane’s men. We saw the lone-wolf side of Lionel Messi once again that literally was the decider of this El Clasico.
— Tahir Nadeem Khan (@tahirengr) April 24, 2017
He pierced right through Real’s defense on his own and scored an equalizer five minutes later. The rest of the first half was a back-and-forth affair as Marc-Andre Ter Stegen came up big for Barcelona and Real Madrid managed to cage the Catalans in the mid-field.
The story continued in the second half but with a more frenetic pace. Both teams were now leaning on their goalkeeper with her Stegen and Keylor Navas, both managing to keep the opposition thirsty. Just like his counterpart, Navas too managed to defend his wall against the opposition’s talisman on what looked like a sure shot goal, keeping the tally equal.
However, the lack of precision cost Madrid the lead in the 73rd minute when Ivan Rakitic popped up with an absolutely beauty to give Barcelona a 2-1 lead at the Santiago Bernabeu. The frustration could clearly be seen in Sergio Ramos’ play four minutes later, as Lionel Messi was lucky of not having a broken leg after a hard tackle in the midfield that saw the former getting a clear Red Card.
But Real Madrid was not done after being left with a 10-man squad, as in the 85th minute, Marcelo served up a divine pass to James Rodriguez, who managed to go past Barcelona, unmarked, for a huge equalizer.
When everybody thought that the El Clasico will result in a draw with Real Madrid 2-2 Barcelona, Lionel Messi came back to haunt the host in extra time. The Argentine came from behind, cutting through Real Madrid’s defense and scored a decider, finishing off a slick move that was started by Sergi Roberto out of the box and converting Jordi Alba’s cutback with his trademark left-footed finish.
This was Messi’s 500th goal for Barcelona and man it was a beauty. Witness it for yourself.
— Manan Agarwal (@MananAgarwal_) April 24, 2017
Lionel Messi is now the all-time highest scorer in El Clasico in La Liga (16) and has surpassed Alfredo Di Stefano (14). This was also his 47th Goal of the season.
Watch the full highlights here:
— Yispan Hamonangan R (@Yispan_H) April 24, 2017
Real Madrid 2-3 Barcelona has exploded the La Liga race wide open as Real Madrid and Barcelona now have 75 points with them and the latter has also skyrocketed to the driver’s seat. With still having a game advantage, Real Madrid will be looking for a comeback while Barcelona, on the other hand, after being eliminated from Champions League, will be looking forward to ending their season on a high-note.
As for the Messi-Ronaldo debate, while the Portuguese became the first man to have 100 European and Champions League goals on his name, Lionel Messi’s 500th Barcelona goal is the best comeback to let this rivalry prosper through the ages.
P.S The way Luis Enrique and Lionel Messi celebrated this victory at Santiago Bernabeu was priceless.