FC Barcelona defeated Real Madrid 3-2 in Madrid on Apr. 23 in the biggest rivalry in world soccer thanks largely in part to another astonishing performance from Lionel Messi who netted two goals that included a game-winner on the last play of the game. That goal was also the 500th that Messi has scored in his career with the Spanish club.
Barcelona, down three points in the standings coming into this match, needed a win to give themselves a decent chance at still being able to grasp the league title.
The game started off fast, and both teams were going at the other. In the first half Messi took a nasty elbow from Marcelo in the mouth which caused him to start bleeding severely. Messi would then play the rest of the first half with gauze in his mouth.
The first goal of the match came from Casemiro for Real Madrid in the 28th minute, but then Messi, with some of his magic, scored just moments later to equalize in the 33rd minute. The score at halftime would be 1-1 after an exciting 45 minutes of the much anticipated Spanish clash.
The second half provided many opportunities for both teams, and both goalkeepers were tested and had to make some difficult saves. In the 73rd minute though, Barcelona found the back of the net with a brilliant strike by Ivan Rakitic to put his side ahead 2-1.
Four minutes later, Messi was taken down by a vicious sliding tackle from Sergio Ramos which earned the center back a red card. So, Madrid was now down to 10 men. Even so, they were able to tie the game 2-2 on a goal by James Rodriguez in the 87th minute.
But it wasn’t over yet. Barcelona provided a magical moment on the last play of the game. Sergi Roberto surged forward for Barcelona and eventually played a ball to Andre Gomes who was to the left of the top of the box. Gomes then found Jordi Alba on the overlap, who then played a ball back across the center to the arriving Messi, who struck it first-time with that magical left foot of his and into the goal for the 92nd minute winner.
It was the last kick of the game, and the Argentine went to the corner to celebrate by taking off his jersey and holding it up in front of the crowd. The referee gave him a yellow card, but Messi took it undeniably as he did not care at that point. He just had an unbelievable performance that included two goals, the second of which won El Clasico for Barcelona in dramatic fashion.
It was a memorable night for Barcelona and the fans of the club, and it was one of--if not the greatest--rivalry games between these two sides ever. It had everything, saves, goals, great plays, controversy, and of course the dramatic ending.
The 3-2 win put Barcelona tied with Real Madrid atop La Liga standings with five games remaining. Barcelona still needs a Real Madrid stumble since Madrid has a game in hand, but nonetheless, Barcelona is in position to make a run at another league title due to a great team effort and a heroic performance by--as head coach Luis Enrique put it-- “the best player in the history of the game.”