Lionel Messi's 500th Barcelona Goal Earns El Clasico Win vs. Real Madrid
Leo Messi led Barcelona to a desperately needed 3-2 away victory in its "El Clasico" matchup on Sunday against Real Madrid, scoring the winning goal in extra time and keeping the team"s title hopes alive.
Leo Messi led Barcelona to a desperately needed 3-2 away victory in its "El Clasico" matchup on Sunday against Real Madrid, scoring the winning goal in extra time and keeping the team's title hopes alive.
It was a must-win situation for Barca in the 33rd week of Spanish First Division soccer action, given that they were in back of Zinedine Zidane's squad by six points in the standings prior to the match, although Real had a game in hand. The Catalans had to emerge victorious at Santiago Bernabeu because to trail by nine points would have been a gap they could not have overcome in the season's remaining games.
The nailbiter of a match surged back and forth throughout, with Casemiro scoring first for the home squad in the 28th minute after Marcelo fired a crossing shot to Sergio Ramos, whose shot-on-goal bounced off the post and right to Casemiro, who popped it home.
Then it was Messi's turn in the 33rd minute when Sergio Busquets slid one through to Ivan Rakitic, who got it to Messi plunging into the box and finding the twine for the equalizer.
The first half finished at 1-1, and it wasn't until the 73rd minute that Rakitic took Barca ahead with a powerful left-footed blast for a tally of his own.
James, having come in for Benzema just minutes before, was on hand to equalize the score for Real Madrid in the 86th minute and it looked like the game would finish out as a draw, also an unacceptable result for Luis Enrique's boys.
But as the clock ticked down in injury time, it was Messi again in the 92nd minute who pulled Barca's fat out of the fire, beating Keylor Navas and sealing the win with what was coincidentally his 500th goal for the club.
Ramos was expelled for the home squad with a red card in the 77th minute and Messi received a yellow card one minute after his deciding goal before some 81,000 fans at the capital stadium.
The very last kick of the clásico could not have been more perfectly executed nor more dramatically delivered, Lionel Messi guiding the ball inside the post to take his team top. It was the 500th goal of his career and few have been more significant. It prompted Luis Enrique, Barça trainer, to say: “He is the best player in history.”