Real Madrid vs Barcelona : El Clasico – Incredible Lionel Messi wins El Clasico with last kick

El Clasico: Real Madrid vs Barcelona – Incredible Lionel Messi wins El Clasico with last kick

Lionel Messi produced an improbable, brilliant last-second winner to settle a blistering El Clasico in Barcelona’s favour in Madrid this evening.

The hype around El Clasico can lead to anti-climax. These fixtures have been known to descend into a festering mass of play-acting and cynical fouls. Tonight, however, we witnessed a classic El Clasico.

Barcelona trailed their great rivals by three points having played a game more before kick off, so knew a win was vital for them with matches running out. Their form was not good, and their coach Luis Enrique will leave this summer.

Real, unbeaten in 12 prior to kick off, started at pace, and took the lead just before the half hour when Brazilian midfielder Casemiro tapped in from close range after a previous effort struck the post.

Casemiro had been booked by this stage, and was perhaps fortunate not to be sent off before half time. Barcelona’s ire at the decision to reprieve him eased by a sensational equaliser, rolled in exquisitely by Messi after he’d sliced through the home defence in one fluid movement.

The second half initially looked like a tale of two goalkeepers – Germany’s Ter Stegen and Costa Rican Keylor Navas traded improbable stops. It needed a goal of supreme quality to beat them – Rakitic strode infield and provided it with a quarter of an hour left for play. It went like a shell.

That looked to be that, particularly when Sergio Ramos was dismissed for the 22nd time in his career for attempting to snap Lionel Messi’s leg clean off.

But Real weren’t done, and it looked like they had the point they craved when substitute James Rodriguez made the most of tired defending to slam in an equaliser four minutes from time.

That reckoned without Messi. Brilliant Messi. Unbelievably, unfeasibly, the right man in the right place again, two minutes into two minutes of added on time at the end of the game, to crisply finish in the only place Navas couldn’t reach, to win the game with the final kick.

A staggering 92 minutes of football. An absolute privilege to watch. Settled by Messi’s 47th goal of the season, and 500th of his club career.

 

Still to come

Ramos will be suspended for two of Real’s final six matches. They have Deportivo A, Valencia H, Tony Adams’ Granada Revolution A, Seville H, Celta A and Malaga A with a two-legged European semi-final with Atletico Madrid crammed in there as well.

Barcelona are out of Europe, and have one fewer game to play. They go to Osasuna next, the derby with Espanyol at home, Villarreal H, Las Palmas A and Eibar H.

The game in hand is away at Celta Vigo, and it’s the penultimate game on Real’s list.

Tale of the tape

My goodness. What an absolute pleasure to sit through and watch. Utterly compelling.

Real took the lead on the half hour, Casemiro finishing from close range after Ronaldo hit the post. They’d started the half stronger but Barcelona took no time at all to hit back – Messi equalising after slicing through the home defence with immaculate control and finish at speed.

It looked for a while like the two goalkeepers would steal the show as Navas and Ter Stegen traded a collection of quality saves. But when Rakitic drew his boot back and drilled in from 20 yards with a quarter of an hour left it seemed Barcelona had done it – particularly when Sergio Ramos did his best Sergio Ramos impression with a disgusting tackle on Messi and red card.

Back came Madrid. James Rodriguez perhaps an odd choice to come on, but he equalised from close range off Marcelo’s cross with five to go.

A draw would have suited Madrid, but they allowed themselves to be caught six v three in a skinny two minutes of added time. Messi did the rest. An immaculate finish to win a wonderful match with the final kick.

Nurse, the big tablets please.

 

All square

Barcelona go top, they have 75 points and +62 goal difference with a better head to head record than Real who have the same number of points but have played one match fewer – that game in hand is away at Celta Vigo.

Lionel Messi wins the Clasico for Barcelona with his 500th goal for the club. Seconds to go. There’s good, there’s great and there’s genius.

Madrid
Not gone well.

 

FULL TIME – Real Madrid 2 Barcelona 3

Well, it was no Line of Duty, but it wasn’t bad.

Messi
Barcelona celebrate

 

90+2 mins

Messi, with the last kick of the game, on the end of a six on three counter attack, smacks the ball into the bottom corner from the edge of the area. Just the 47 goals this season so far. What a finish, what a game.

Messi removes his shirt and does a little tour of the ground showing the crowd his name. Booked for overcelebrating – bet this referee’s fun at a party.

Madrid players sink to their knees across the field. An ending the scriptwriters at Dream Team would have dismissed as far fetched.

messi
Thank you and good night
Madrid
Did you say there was some good news?

 

90+2 mins MESSI. PURE MESSI. Real Madrid 2 BARCELONA 3

I don’t know what to say.

Messi
Guess who?

 

90 mins

Buzz Killington signals just two minutes.

89 mins

Asensio shoots at the near post, Ter Stegen turns it aside. Asensio crosses to the far post, Ronaldo miscues his finish. If there’s ever been a game played at a higher pace than this I haven’t seen it. Referee hopefully about to tell us we’re going to have three and a half days of added time.

86 mins

What am I seeing here? Real in again, Rodriguez tries a cross, cleared back to him, shoots looking to catch Ter Stegen out, the German keeper saves on the line.

85 mins GOOOOOOOOOOOOOOAL!! REAL MADRID 2 Barcelona 2!!

They’ve only gone and done it. That Barcelona defence creaks again as Marcelo crosses to the near post and Rodriguez, just on the pitch, steals in unmarked and hammers in at the near post. Level again.

Rodriguez
Unlikely hero

 

83 mins

Barcelona, oddly given the circumstances, over commit for a corner and are lucky that a Real counter comes to nothing as James Rodriguez, just on as a sub, shoots straight at Ter Stegen.

Here comes James Rodriguez, that summer crush you had way back in 2014 and now it’s just awkward

 

82 mins

Navas, again, diving left to keep Messi out after he’d turned Kroos and gone hunting for the bottom corner.

81 mins

Getting nasty now. Kovacic deliberately chops Messi down, he gets booked.

The red is the 22nd of Ramos’ career apparently.

Red card for Ramos. Never would have predicted that.

 

80 mins

If the red card wasn’t game over, this surely should have been. Cross from the left finds Pique, of all people, completely free on the penalty spot with the ball at his feet. Navas, absolutely outstanding in now probably defeat, springs from his line and saves.

77 mins Ramos red card

The ninth annual Sergio Ramos brain explosion sees the Spanish international sent off. Inexplicably takes off and tries to hack Messi down with a vile two footed, airborne, wild lunge. All the studs showing. All the studs that have ever been manufactured.

Didn’t even wait for the red card, straight off down the tunnel, offering several Barcelona players and staff out as he goes.

74 mins

Probably just as well for the assistant referee, who was presumably thinking about other things, that Ronaldo has rolled his shot straight to the keeper. The Portuguese superstar was one of three obviously offside Real players in that move.

72 mins GOLGOLGOLGOLGOL Real Madrid 1 BARCELONA 2!!!

Rakitic. Edge of the box, turns inside, has a look, sends one fizzing into the far top corner. No saving that one, wouldn’t have got near it with a butterfly net.Barcelona now level with Madrid at the top of La Liga as it stands, with a better goal difference and head to head record. Your move Real.

Barcelona
Barcelona go in front

 

71 mins

Ter Stegen down at the near post to save from Asensio. Both keepers having superb games here – could easily have been 3-3 on another night.

69 mins

Goalscorer Casemiro steps down off the disciplinary tightrope /cliche and into the early bath water with Kovacic on for him.

67 mins

Back to the end to end carnage of the first half as Barcelona nearly make the most of their let off only for Navas to make his third key save of the second half to deny Suarez at the back stick.

66 mins Ronaldo in missed sitter shocker

Moments after trying, and failing to execute a spectacular bicycle kick Ronaldo has a far easier opportunity with the goal at his mercy on the end of a pass from Asensio but he contrives to hook it over.

64 mins

Sam is always immaculately turned out to be fair.

And to think Luis Enrique’s friends told him he was wasting his money when he bought that suit at 4am in Vegas from a hotel foyer pianist

Enrique
Nice suit

 

61 mins

All onto the floor again for a little roll around. Carvajal not happy with Suarez who had a kick out at him after a foul a moment before on Modric. Referee gives the headmaster pointy finger treatment and on we go.

Suarez
Suarez eyeing up dinner.

 

58 mins

Navas keeps the score level. Flying save off to his left with no time to react as Pique plants a firm header towards the far corner from a Barcelona corner. Turning into a tale of two goalkeepers this…

56 mins

Madrid’s turn to fume with the official as Marcelo is penalised for a legitimate tackle. Messi sportingly boots the resulting free kick over the bar and into the stand.

55 mins

And, just as in the first half, after ten minutes of Real pressure without a goal, Barcelona fly forwards and almost score with the first attack. Alcacer, all alone in the penalty area, 12 yards out, goes for the toe poke, Navas saves with his legs.

53 mins

Decent with his hands though to be fair – fantastic save from Ter Stegen to deny Benzema at extremely close range. Real dominant.

benzema
Benzema’s near miss

 

51 mins

Barcelona can’t get out of their own half at the moment – though when your goalkeeper is passing it straight to an opposing striker twice in as many minutes that’s not going to help. Ter Stegen lucky to escape both times. John Beck would never have stood for this.

49 mins

Barcelona asleep at a Real corner, Kroos given a free run into the area, Ramos says he was pushed, Ronaldo leaps, but the cross is uncharacteristically overhit. As in the first half, Real have flown out of the traps and Barcelona are still in the sheds.

48 mins

German v German – Kroos shoots first time, catching Ter Stegen unsighted, but the keeper still gets across to make a reasonably comfortable save in the bottom corner.

47 mins

Real on the front foot straight away, Pique with a crucial interception at the near post with Benzema and Ronaldo waiting behind him for a tap in. Probably Ronaldo, if it had got there, which it didn’t.

Bell rings

Back for round two. A real treat so far. Second half underway…

Half Time – Real 1 Barcelona 1

Somehow Messi volleys wide from close range after navas has an absolute flap at a corner and that’s half time. Everybody back round the referee.

45 mins

We’ll have another two minutes added, and it’s Barcelona looking to make the most of it as Messi piles forward. Casemiro fouls him, fairly cynically, and he’s on a booking, which means the entire population of Catalonia is around the referee demanding a red card. Pretty lucky to escape without one, however unedifying the crowd scene is.

Messi
Spot the referee

 

42 mins

Real, shuffling into more of 4-4-2 set up following the change, on the back foot again as Suarez crosses to the back post and Jordi Alba shoots wide.

40 mins – So Close

Messi shoots an inch wide via a deflection. No corner, and Messi has his mouth full so can only do the Team America secret signal towards the referee by way of protest. Goal kick.

Messi
Say again?

 

38 mins Booking, and Bale off

Umtiti has put what Ron Atkinson might have called “a reducer” on Ronaldo and been booked. Bale has limped off but it’s Asensio on to replace him rather than Isco.

Bale
Bale makes false start

 

36 mins

Ah. Has anybody got Isco’s number? Bale, passed fit after two games out, now parked on the turf clutching the ankle again. Gives us a chance to look at the Real goal again and, hat tip lino, Ramos was just about the only Madrid player who was onside.

34 mins

Real’s turn to have a little wobble. Twice in quick succession they’re caught playing out from the back with a slack pass – twice Suarez wastes the chance. Perhaps this long range Modric shot, turned aside firmly by Ter Stegen, will settle them back down.

32 mins GOAL!!!!!!! Real Madrid 1 BARCELONA 1

That didn’t last long. Messi glides into the penalty area and rolls in the equaliser. Now the top scorer in this fixture’s history, one ahead of Di Stefano.

It’s a beautiful goal, flowing football, hot knife through butter stuff, and Messi’s control and finish was absolutely perfect. First goal in six meetings with Real.

31 mins

Messi, mouth full of tissue paper, dumped to the turf again. Barcelona free kick and we’re back in open play.

27 mins GOAL!!!!! REAL MADRID 1 Barcelona 0

Casemiro scores from close range and Real are, deservedly, in front.

A cleared corner is lofted back into the far post. There’s a queue of Real Madrid players standing offside but the assistant decides, quite possibly incorrectly, that Ramos is not one of them. He hits the inside of the post but the ball rolls plum for Casemiro to score into an empty net from close range.

Madrid goal
Jesus with the assist

 

27 mins

Pique under Bale, concedes a corner, appeals for calm in full on Harry Enfield style.

25 mins

Benzema’s sluggish start to this game continues as he wastes a two on two situation with a slack touch after receiving a pass from Ronaldo who was up in support. Ronaldo will be fine with this I’m sure, not a problem.

23 mins

Messi is back, looking like an advert for toilet tissue. Ronaldo turns and curls a shot over.

Ronaldo
Ronaldo shoots over

 

19 mins

Right, well at one end Ronaldo is shooting low and Ter Stegen produces the best save of the game.

But, at the other, Messi is down and, literally, picking his teeth out of the grass. Blood flowing. Marcelo, replays suggest, has caught him flush in the gob with a flying elbow – unusually for this fixture it does look like a genuine accident.

Physio frantically stuffing cotton wool into Messi’s face.

Messi
My face, my valuable face

 

18 mins

Flying from one end to the other now. Proper football. Benzema at one end, played in after great work by Modric, shoots at Ter Stegen. Immediately Barcelona respond, Suarez shoots wide.

16 mins

Ronaldo mighty close to threading Benzema through into the area but Barcelona mass ranks and break themselves with Messi gliding past three players before also, just, getting his final ball wrong.

Messi
Messi gets into his stride

 

11 mins Yellow card

Less than ideal early booking for Casemiro. A long 79 minutes trying to crowd Messi and Suarez’s space while simultaneously walking what we lazy sports hacks who’ve had a long weekend like to call the disciplinary tightrope lies in store. /cliche

9 mins Barcelona settling down

Having successfully ridden that fast start from Real without shipping a goal Barcelona are now starting to move the ball around and retain possession. Suarez shoots wide of the far post from the edge of the area – 32 goals this season but none in his last four.

Suarez
Suarez goes close

 

5 mins

Kroos sets Ronaldo away down the right, men up in support but he was only ever going to cut in and shoot from the edge of the box and he drills it straight at the keeper.

3 mins

Carvajal round the back to the byline, cuts it back, Barcelona survive. Madrid starting fast and dominating.

1 min

And so it begins. Ronaldo is the first to hit the deck and turn to the referee. Real Madrid want a penalty, officials say no. Replay pending…

Could easily have been a spot kick. Umtiti, on El Classico debut, hung a leg out, got none of the ball, clipped Ronaldo. As we’ve come to expect in this fixture, he did hit the deck very easily though. Our referee this evening is the rather splendidly named  Alejandro José Hernández Hernández.

Ronaldo
Penalty appeal 1/356

 

Kick Off

Masters champion Sergio Garcia takes to the field, big hug for Ramos, leathers the ball into the stand, and we’re ready to go.

Brace

Teams are out, going through the handshake rigmarole. We’re nearly ready for the start of the second biggest game in Europe this weekend, following Grimsby Town’s big 4-1 win against Yeovil yesterday.

Zidane
Best of enemies

 

Odd Messi stats

Just the 45 goals in 45 games for Lionel Messi this season – similar record to Alvaro Negredo at Middlesbrough – but his El Classico record isn’t that brilliant of late.

No goals in six meetings and he’s only scored in two of the last dozen games between the two sides – albeit he did bag a hat trick in one of the other two.

Messi
Is tonight the night for Messi?

 

History makers

Madrid are hunting a La Liga and Champions League double for the first time since the Di Stefano side of the 1950s – 1958 to be precise.

They go into tonight’s match three points ahead of Barcelona with a game in hand. Barcelona have a far better goal difference, and if they win tonight they’ll also have a better head to head record which is how tied teams are separated at the end of the season.

There are five league games to go, and Barcelona manager Luis Enrique has already confirmed he’ll be leaving in the summer. They’re in wobbly form – two defeats and a draw in the last four. Real haven’t lost in a dozen games in all comps.

Isco benched

Bale’s return is bad/great news for Isco who drops down to the bench to accommodate him.

Isco was a Barcelona fan as a youngster, has a dog called Messi, and has been linked with a move to the Nou Camp this summer. Might be one worth sitting out.

Bale is back

Headlines for Real Madrid include the return after a two match injury absence for Wales winger Gareth Bale who starts up front with Benzema and some other bloke.

Real: Navas; Carvajal, Sergio Ramos, Marcelo, nacho; Kroos, Modric, Casemiro; Bale, Benzema, Ronaldo

Subs: Casilla, James, Kovacic, Asensio, Morata, Isco, Danilo

Gareth Bale
Guess who’s back

 

Teams are in

The big talking point all week has been whether Neymar would be allowed to play. His red card in the defeat at Malaga (to go with the 15 yellow cards he’s had this season) resulted in a one match ban, extended to three for sarcastically applauding the officials on the way off. Barcelona tried to take their appeal all the way to the Court of Appeal for Sport this weekend but have admitted defeat and he is not playing.

So…

Barcelona: Ter Stegen; Roberto, Pique, Umtiti, Alba; Rakitic, Busquets, Iniesta; Messi, Suarez, Alcacer

Subs: Cillessen, Denis, Arda, Mascherano, Digne, Gomes, Alena

Neymar
Bad lad

 

Welcome

Well hello everybody and welcome along to our live blog of tonight’s 234th El Classico, league leaders Real Madrid hosting chasers Barcelona. Kick off is 19.45.

Big-match preview

What is it?

It’s Real Madrid vs Barcelona and, if that’s not enticing enough, a clash that could go a long way to deciding this season’s La Liga title.

When is it?

It’s on Sunday April 23.

What time is kick-off?

This one starts at 7.45pm BST.

What TV channel is it on?

Sky have the rights to La Liga and will be showing this clash on Sky Sports 1 and HD, with coverage beginning at 7pm. Alternatively, you can follow all the action right here with goal updates and analysis.

What is the team news?

Real Madrid

Madrid will be without defenders Pepe and Raphael Varane for the game, while Dani Carvajal, Toni Kroos and Gareth Bale all have question marks over their fitness heading into the weekend.

Barcelona:

Barcelona will be without Neymar, who was suspended three games after sarcastically applauding an assistant referee in the loss to Malaga in the league two weeks ago. Full team news to be confirmed.

What are they saying?

Real Madrid boss Zinedine Zidane on Cristiano Ronaldo:

“I don’t know if there’s a category for him. What you see Cristiano doing is really impressive. The goals, the way he finishes them, in such key, important moments,” said Zidane of the No. 7.

“He always knows when there’s an important occasion, he’s going to be there. It is out of any sort of category. There are few players who can to do what Ronaldo has done and we all know that.”

Zinedine Zidane of Real Madrid and Luis Enrique of Barcelona in action
Different times for Zidane and Enrique, pictured here playing against each other in 2002 CREDIT: GETTY IMAGES

Barcelona boss Luis Enrique:

“It will be difficult to lift my players up after this, but it will be easy to motivate them. We have the best stimulus that any Barcelona fan could ask for which is that we play against our eternal rival. There’s no better place to go than the Bernabeu.

“We have the chance to get back in the fight for La Liga in a six-pointer against the side top of the league. I love being involved at a club as ambitious as this.”

How do things stand in La Liga?