Barcelona’s Lionel Messi provided yet another moment for the ages in the second minute of stoppage time as the 29-year-old fired the Catalonians’ winner past Real Madrid goalkeeper Keylor Navas to net his 500th goal for the La Liga chasers and secure a memorable 3-2 victory inside the Santiago Bernabeu.
The dramatic clash lived up to expectation and featured some of the finest football of the season from every position, including two man of the match performances from both Navas and Marc-Andre ter Stegen in either goal.
However, the tantalising 90 minutes also produced some of the fiercest – no more than Sergio Ramos who received a straight red card for a two-footed lunge on the magical Argentine.
The five-goal thriller could well have been more however if it were not for the heroics of both goalkeepers who produced sensational save after save to keep the scintillating tie in the balance.
However, now the initial dust has settled from the 174th El Clasico, let’s take a look at three things we learned from the mind-boggling goal frenzy.
1. The La Liga Title Race Is Very Much Still on
Heading into this fixture Real Madrid sat three points ahead of their nearest challengers with a game in hand, however following the confidence-draining defeat to Barcelona, Zinedine Zidane’s men now find themselves level-pegging with the Catalan giants and behind in the head-to-head.
Even though Los Blancos still have the chance to replace that three point buffer over their fiercest rivals, the Spanish capital city club face a tough test in the Champions League semi final against Atletico Madrid.
The two Madrid derbies may prove pivotal in the La Liga title run-in, with Cristiano Ronaldo and Co. surely focusing on another European success.
2. Sergio Ramos Proved the Catalyst to Madrid’s Downfall
Sergio Ramos has a knack of providing his side with a much-needed goal, however also, all too regularly, proves pivotal in hindering Madrid.
The 31-year-old centre-back failed to control his aggression yet again and was sent for an early bath thanks to a highly-dangerous two-footed lunge on Lionel Messi.
The lack of the fourth man at the back proved decisive for Barcelona’s winner, with Los Blancos spread thin and susceptible to the counter-attack which allowed Messi to ghost into the Madrid penalty area unopposed and fire home the winner in the 92nd minute.
3. Lionel Messi Still Produces Moments of Magic
There is no doubting Messi’s credentials as one of the all-time greats, however the 29-year-old magician was enduring a six-game El Clasico baron spell before Sunday night’s brace.
But the Argentina international proved yet again that he can steal the show on the biggest stages and was the imperative cog in Luis Enrique’s winning machine.
There have been doubters of the Barca hero’s ability to produce in the big games, but the four-time Ballon D’Or winner silenced critics with a typically sensational Messi-like performance proving he is still capable of greatness.