The Real Madrid supporters packed into the Santiago Bernabéu needed no reminder of who the architect behind their team’s defeat was but Lionel Messi held his number ten shirt aloft having struck the injury time winner in what was a clásico that will live long in the memory.
Barcelona arrived in Madrid knowing that another other than victory would see the title race effectively over and after their conclusive defeat to Juventus in the Champions League in midweek, Barça’s hopes appeared slim.
Messi, however, had other plans and produced one of his most iconic performances to down Madrid and reopen La Liga.
500 – Lionel Messi has scored his 500th goal for Barcelona in all competitions. Stellar. pic.twitter.com/Jx3kUl1CQ9
— OptaJose (@OptaJose) April 23, 2017
A Marcelo elbow had already left Messi bleeding from his mouth when Casemiro put Real ahead but it wasn’t long before the five-time Ballon d’Or winner danced through the defence to equalise and in the process surpass Alfredo Di Stéfano as the highest scorer of all-time in El Clásico.
Messi hadn’t scored in the last six clasicos but was obviously in the mood and continued to threaten the home side.
Both sides missed chances but in the 73rd minute, Ivan Rakitic smashed Barcelona ahead and when Sergio Ramos was then shown a red card for a foul on Messi, it appeared Luis Enrique’s side would be leaving with the points.
James Rodríguez struck a dramatic late equaliser to seemingly rescue Madrid but in the 92nd minute, Messi arrived on the edge of the penalty area to fire the ball past Keylor Navas.
The result puts Barcelona level on points at the top of the table with their bitter rivals although Madrid still have a game in hand. The title race had appeared over a few weeks ago but Messi has breathed life back into the run-in.