Magical Messi Wins El Clásico

Real Madrid v FC Barcelona - Barcelona's Lionel Messi celebrates scoring their third goal. Credit: Reuters / Stringer Livepic

Lionel Messi struck a 92nd minute winner to send Barcelona to the top of La Liga, as the Argentinian magician sealed a thrilling 3-2 victory over Real Madrid.

Casemiro had put Real Madrid ahead in the 28th minute, however Real Madrid’s lead only lasted five minutes. Lionel Messi levelled the score in true Messi fashion, the Argentina international picked the ball up from Rakitic outside the box, before skipping around Dani Carvajal and firing past Keylor Navas. Messi has now broken the record for most goals in Clasico history (15), going one ahead of Real Madrid legend Alfredo Di Stefano (14).

Real Madrid had started the game well forcing Ter Stegan into action. However, there were worrying signs for Real Madrid after Gareth Bale hobbled off, with what looked to be an ankle injury. Real Madrid started the second half as they had the first and Ter Stegen tipped Kroos’ 20-yard strike wide before having to show quick reflexes to block a Karim Benzema header from point-blank range just minutes later.

Ronaldo, who had few opportunities in front of goal, missed his greatest opportunity on the night after Bale’s substitute Marco Asensio squared the ball for the Portugal international but he scooped his shot over the bar. That miss would soon be punished, as Rakitic put Barcelona ahead with a stunning 20 yard strike. Sergio Ramos was then shown the 22nd red card of his career after a nasty two-footed tackle on Messi. With Real down to 10 men, Pique could have killed the game off for the visitors as he burst into the Madrid box and smashed a shot right at Navas.

Real Madrid would find an equaliser through substitute Rodriguez. Marcelo, in space on the left, crossed in for Rodriguez to smash into the roof of the net at the near post. Shortly afterwards, Ter Stegen made strong stops to deny another strike on goal from Rodriguez and an attempt from the lively Asensio. With the final whistle approaching, it looked as though neither side would land the killer blow.

Messi would silence Real Madrid and their entire fanbase with his 500th Barcelona goal in all competitions. Jordi Alba cut back a pass for the onrushing Messi to score a trademark goal as he curled the ball into the bottom right corner. Messi delivered the final blow to the Madrid crowd by holding his Barcelona shirt up in the air for all to see. The goal proved to be the last kick of the match as Barcelona walk away with all three points and re-ignite the La Liga title race.

When two giants collide, it is always an enthralling encounter – When Real Madrid needed Ronaldo, he failed to deliver. When Barcelona needed Messi, he showed the world why he is one of the greatest players in history.

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