Lionel Messi scored his 500th goal for Barcelona to send his team top of La Liga after a stunning solo performance against 10-man Real Madrid.
The Argentine maestro scored two brilliant goals the winner coming with the final kick of the game– and completely outperformed rival Cristiano Ronaldo as Luis Enrique’s team blew the title race wide open with a 3-2 win.
Real Madrid opened the scoring in controversial manner with Sergio Ramos clearly offside in the build-up before defensive midfielder Casemiro bundled home from close range.
The home side were on top and their only concern was Gareth Bale, a late inclusion, went off before half-time as his calf injury flared up.
In the first-half but Messi brought his side back into the game with a piece of individual brilliance.
The Barca No 10 produced two sublime touches to absolutely bamboozle Dani Carvajal, before slotting home from close range.
The second half brought more heavy punches from the two sides as both pushed for winners.
Maligned goalkeepers Keylor Navas and Marc-Andre Ter Stegen were the main reason the scoring stayed even – both goalkeepers had brilliant games and forced a number of excellent saves.
Ter Stegen produced a point-blank save from a close header from Karim Benzema before Navas made three excellent saves to keep the score at 1-1.
The Costa Rican kept out Paco Alcacer one-on-one, saved a bullet header from Gerard Pique before reacting quickly to deny Luis Suarez after a world class pass from Andres Iniesta.
Although it wasn’t really his fault as Marco Asensio’s pass was behind the Real No 7.
As both sides pushed, Navas was powerless to save Ivan Raktic’s effort, the Croatian smashing in an unstoppable long-range effort with his weak foot.
When Sergio Ramos inexplicably lunged in two-footed on Lionel Messi – his fifth red card in 34 El Clasico matches – the contest seemed over.
But Barcelona, always porous at the back, allowed James Rodriguez to ghost in at the front post to score a goal that would have kept Real – who have a game in hand – top of the league.
That was until the visitors produced a lightning quick counter-attack in the final minute of the game.
Sergi Roberto beat two men, found Andre Gomes who slipped in Jordi Alba to cut back for Lionel Messi.
With Messi arriving at the edge of the box, the result was never in doubt.
Messi had one final insult for the Real Madrid fans – holding up his shirt to make sure they knew who scored the winner.
Credit: The Sun