Real Madrid 2-3 Barcelona: Lionel Messi's injury-time winner sends Barca top of La Liga
By James Kilpatrick
Last Updated: 24/04/17 11:18am
Lionel Messi scored a 92nd-minute winner as Barcelona beat Real Madrid 3-2 in a pulsating Clasico contest to go top of La Liga.
Casemiro put Real Madrid ahead in the 28th minute but his effort was cancelled out by Messi five minutes later through a fine individual goal.
Ivan Rakitic then put the visitors in front with a long-range effort in the 73rd minute before Sergio Ramos was sent off for a two-footed lunge on Messi.
Despite Madrid being down to 10 men, they found an equaliser through substitute James Rodriguez before Messi stunned the Santiago Bernabeu with the last kick of the match to score his 500th goal for Barcelona.
Barcelona had to make do without Neymar after the club dropped a final bid to have his ban suspended. Paco Alcacer started in his place on the left side of a front three.
Gareth Bale meanwhile returned to the Real Madrid starting line-up after missing the club's last two games.
The second Clasico of the season began in controversial circumstances as Cristiano Ronaldo went down in the box after a challenge from Samuel Umtiti, but the referee waved away the hosts' appeal for a penalty.
After Ronaldo forced Marc-Andre ter Stegen into a smart save 20 minutes in, Madrid capitalised on their bright start by scoring the game's opening goal.
A poorly-cleared Toni Kroos corner fell to Marcelo who crossed towards Ronaldo and Sergio Ramos at the far post. The ball was met by Ramos, who had managed to stay onside, with his first-time shot hitting the post before Casemiro tapped in to score his third La Liga goal of the campaign.
But despite Madrid's relative comfort, their lead did not last long as Barcelona levelled through Messi, who only a few moments earlier had been down with blood coming from his mouth after colliding with Marcelo's elbow.
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).
Modric tested Ter Stegen from distance and Messi had a deflected shot go just wide, before Bale hobbled off with what appeared to be an ankle problem.
Messi had the chance to put Barcelona ahead on the stroke of half-time when a corner evaded Navas but, with an open goal gaping, he stabbed his effort wide.
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.
But Barcelona responded quickly to Madrid's pressure. Alcacer picked up a lovely Rakitic flick before toe-poking his effort straight at Navas. The Costa Rica international then pushed away a Gerard Pique header from a corner in the 59th minute.
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.
The miss would be punished by Barcelona as Rakitic put the visitors ahead with a stunning 20-yard effort.
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
But 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 just two minutes of added time, it looked like neither side would find the winning goal in the enthralling Clasico encounter.
But 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.