Real Madrid 2-3 Barcelona: El Clasico - as it happened

Nick Howson
International Business Times
  • Barcelona go top of La Liga after stunning Real Madrid at the Bernabeu

  • Lionel Messi scores twice, including in 500th goal in the 92nd minute, to deliver victory.

  • Casemiro put Real ahead after 29 minutes.

  • After Messi levelled, Ivan Rakitic fired home to put Barca ahead for the first time.

  • Sergio Ramos sent off for 22nd time in his career after two-footed lunge.

  • Substitute James Rodriguez equalised for Real with five minutes left.

  • Luis Enrique's side replace Real as leaders on head-to-head record.

  • Revealed: How Rafael Nadal influenced the signing of Marco Asensio.

Lionel Messi
Lionel Messi

Well that brings an end to our coverage of one of the most dramatic Clasicos in many, many years. The initiative is now with Barcelona in the title race, though Real Madrid still have a game in hand. A brilliant climax to the campaign is in store in Spain.

We are back with live coverage from the Premier League in mid-week when matters at both ends could be settled. But until then, goodbye.

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Lionel Messi stuns the Bernabeu with a late winner.

Lionel Messi
Lionel Messi

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The sort of game you need to sit down in a dark room afterwards and take in what you have just seen. A quite incredible sporting experience, let along football match. I have found El Clasico to perhaps be the most overblown sporting event on the planet - perhaps only second to the Super Bowl - yet it satisfied all the pre-match build-up and hyperbole with a brilliant exhibition of attacking football.

Granted, the defending was terrible throughout but that should not take anything away from the drama which saw Messi produce a fabulous winner. For all his brilliant moments in a Barcelona shirt, that is very near the top.

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Full time: Real Madrid 2-3 Barcelona

Pinch yourself kids, that really happened. One of the best Clasico's in many years ends with a dramatic and potentially title-shifting goal. Lionel Messi brings up his 500 with a goal which sends Barcelona top of the La Liga table. Real Madrid looked set to keep their three-point advantage but they were stunned in the second minute of added time. Incredible.

GOAL! Real Madrid 2-3 Barcelona (Lionel Messi)

UNBELIEVABLE! The most brilliant of games ends with a fitting winning goal for the beast player on the pitch. Barcelona pile forward in the final minute of stoppage time and the ball is cut back to Messi on a plate and he curls beyond Keylor Navas. Amazing finish.

Two added minutes at the Bernabeu.

Good luck guessing how this game will end. Both teams going for the win with reckless abandon. Thrilling game and club football at its very best.

GOAL! Real Madrid 2-2 Barcelona (James Rodriquez)

What a vital goal that could be for Real Madrid. Marcelo crosses and James ghosts in at the near post and taps in to the roof of the net. Vital goal for the 10-men and is there a winner in the offing?

Ivan Rakitic celebrates putting Barcelona ahead for the first time.

Ivan Rakitic
Ivan Rakitic

Pique should put Barca out of sight but he is denied by the brilliant Navas. This game is becoming both heated and open. Surely more goals and cards, to come.

Red card: Sergio Ramos (Real Madrid)

Goodness me the season has swung in a matter of minutes. Ramos sent off for Real Madrid after he takes out Lionel Messi with a tackle in which he dives in two-footed. Correct decision and Real's plight now sees them reduced to 10-men.

GOAL! Real Madrid 1-2 Barcelona (Rakitic)

Now then. Barcelona complete the turnaround and grab a crucial second goal from Rakitic. Real give the Croatian too much time and he cuts inside and unleashes a blistering shot which beats Navas. Brilliant 20 minutes or so ahead.

Casemiro replaced by Kovacic with 20 minutes to go. Not sure Zidane should have had the chance to withdraw him.

Meanwhile, Andre Gomes replaces Alcacer.

Real end-to-end game now and Suarez should punish Ronaldo but Navas makes a fine save to keep Real level. Could go either way this, stunningly entertaining game.

WOW! How has Ronaldo missed that? Asensio put clear by Benzema and he squares it for the Portugal international who leaning back scoops the ball over.

Cristiano Ronaldo attempts the spectacular from an Asensio cross, but it's a bad miscue and it flies wide. Surely we're going to have a third goal in this contest but from who?

Among the venues showing El Clasico is a venue in Greece which is housing several hundred refugees. A certain Carlss Puyol is also in attendance. Not bad.

Real Madrid vs Barcelona
Real Madrid vs Barcelona

Now Navas has to save from a stinging Pique header. Chances at both ends and as the game approaches the hour mark it could go either way.

Paco Alcacer has the chance to put his name up in lights, but it's gone for the Barcelona forward. The replacement for Neymar collects the ball from Rakitic but he pokes weakly at goal and Navas makes an easy save.

Barcelona creating a lot of their own problems, failing to clear their lines and they need Ter Stegen to come to the rescue, with a reaction saver to keep out Benzema's header from point-blank range.

First we've really seen of Toni Kroos in an attacking guise, forcing fellow-countryman Ter Stegen into a good near-post save. Real Madrid into the ascendancy as they were at the start of the first half.

Both sets of players are back on the outfield and we're back underway in El Clasico. A pivotal 45 minutes in the race for the La Liga title.

Casemiro gave Real Madrid the lead in the first half.


Half time: Real Madrid 1-1 Barcelona

Intriguing first half at the Bernabeu which ends with Barcelona missing another clutch chance. Bravo flaps at the corner and Messi taps wide unmarked with the goal at his mercy. Not sure how he missed that.

Messi has inspired this Barcelona turnout in the first half. Casemiro opened the scoring for Real, and while he has escaped being sent off having already been booked once, Messi's brilliance has the visitors level. Could go either way this.

Casemiro walking a fine line here. Already booked, he takes out Lionel Messi as Barcelona counter. Messi shakes the invisible card and Luis Enrique fumes on the touchline. But no caution follows.

Another half chance for Barcelona as Jordi Alba volleys wide. Real Madrid struggling to stifle this dominance from the visitors.

A bloodied Lionel Messi celebrates drawing Barcelona level in the Clasico.

Lionel Messi
Lionel Messi

Indeed it is Asensio who comes on for Gareth Bale.

Read here how Rafael Nadal convinced Real president Florentino Perez to sign the Majorcan, and how he has become a key component of the Los Blancos side.

Not only his 499th goal but another bit of history for Messi.

Bale down the tunnel and his Clasico is over. Asensio or Isco?

Gareth Bale down holding the same ankle which has kept him out of the last two games. The Wales international has been out of sorts so far in this game and could be about to make way.

Ter Stegen saves from a fine strike from Luka Modric as Real look to bite back. Fine game this has developed into after a slow start.

GOAL! Real Madrid 1-1 Barcelona (Lionel Messi)

Cometh the man, cometh the hour. Barcelona in a rut and who drags them out of trouble but their talisman. Messi picks up a loose pass on the edge of the box, turns inside Carvajal and sweeps the ball into the corner. Fabulous strike.

Gareth Bale back for Real Madrid tonight after injury.

Gareth Bale
Gareth Bale

GOAL! Real Madrid 1-0 Barcelona (Casemiro)

The title pendulum swings Real Madrid's way. Marcelo crosses from a half-cleared corner and when Ramos touches on the post Casemiro slides in to convert into an empty net. Plenty of players could have been offside in that incident, but what matters is that Madrid have the lead.

Messi now jogging around with a tissue covering his mouth. He receives the ball and lashes the ball long as Real regain possession. The home side seems to have been boosted by that episode and after Ter Stegen kept out Ronaldo, he curls over the bar from 20 yards.

Some debate over whether Marcelo meant that elbow. Twitter appears to be saying yes.

Lionel Messi down with blood flowing from his mouth. He seems to catch a glancing elbow from Marcelo - totally accidentally it must be said and he needs treatment. Fortunate to escaped with all his own teeth there is Messi.

Lovely lay-off by Pablo Alcacer to feed Suarez but the ex-Liverpool forward snatches at the shot and is balloons wide.

Barcelona are certainly the better side at the moment and Messi is at the epicenter. he turns and runs from inside the centre circle. The Argentina runs into the heart of the Real defence but his pass to Rakitic is over-hit and the chance is gone.

Sergio Garcia takes to the field to take the ceremonial kick-off before El Clasico.

Real Madrid vs Barcelona
Real Madrid vs Barcelona

It was a pretty needless booking for Casemiro to pick up.

Barcelona finally have a foothold in this game and they have their first chance, as Iniesta pulls the ball back to Suarez, who takes aim but shoots wide. Now Casemiro gets what could be a very important yellow card are a cynical tackle on Lionel Messi.

Real running Barca ragged in the opening minutes. Ronaldo sparks a counter after being put clear by Modric. He cuts inside Gerard Pique and shoots to goalwards but Ter Stegen is equal to it.

Cristiano Ronaldo wants a penalty in the second minute and he might have a point. He nips ahead of Samuel Umtiti and though the Frenchman makes the faintest contact with the Ballon d'Or winner it is enough to see him go to ground. The referee waves away the appeals.

Underway at the Bernabeu. One hundred and eight-five countries tuning into this game. But the best coverage right here. Big night ahead.

Sergio Ramos is being paraded to the Madrid fans before kick-off, resplendent in his green jacket after his Masters win this month. He conducts the ceremonial kick-off - whatever that is. The players are we're ready to get underway.

Thank goodness we have moved away from the 3pm blackout and we can enjoy this El Clasico on a Sunday evening, which kick-offs a bumper week of sport.

Real Madrid warming up ahead of kick-off.

Real Madrid have captured just one of the last eight La Liga crowns. But victory tonight can turn that run around and all-but bury Barca as far as the title is concerns. What a carrot for Zinedine Zidane and his team.

For those who may have missed the story regarding Neymar this week, let me refresh your memory.

The Brazilian was dismissed two weeks against against Malaga for two bookable offences, forcing him out of the clash with Real Sociedad. But upon clapping sarcastically at the referee his ban was extended to three meaning he would miss El Clasico.

Barca had appealed the punishment, which was rejected by Spain's football authorities. But the club went to the Spanish Sports Tribunal in an effort to have the ban overturned. However, the body were unable to meet in time, and to avid further sanction Barcelona dropped the appeal and have left Neymar out of their squad.

The reality is Neymar has been far from his best in recent weeks and endured a torrid time against Juventus, earning a booking which would have ruled him out of the first leg of any semi-final - had they progressed.

The return of Gareth Bale might seem like a simple decision for those from the British isles, but that would be to discredit the recent form of Isco who has three goals in his last four games. Cristiano Ronaldo does have a slightly injury so it will be interesting to see how he fares early on.

Luis Enrique does have the cushion of the Copa del Rey final but there is no doubt all the pressure is on his Barcelona side tonight at the Bernabeu.

Both sides were pushed all their way in their respective Champions League ties in mid-week, and you wonder what affect of those demands will have on tonight's game.

Real Madrid needed extra time to beat 10-man Bayern Munich, with Cristiano Ronaldo scoring a hat-trick to send the 11-time winners through.

Meanwhile, Barcelona needed to overturn a three-goal deficit against Juventus but were unable to break through the Italian rearguard. Who comes into this game in better shape?

One change for the Catalans and it is the one we all expected, with Paco Alcacer replacing the suspended Neymar.

And now the Barcelona team is in.....

So Gareth Bale is fit for El Clasico. The Welshman's return is the only change from the extra time win over Bayern Munich in the Champions League, with Isco dropping to the bench. Marco Asensio is on the bench alongside James Rodriguez.

The Real Madrid team drops with 65 minutes until kick-off.

Former Barcelona striker Gary Lineker fearing the worst ahead of El Clasico.

Barcelona's players arriving at the Bernabeu.

Luis Enrique and his coaching team in deep discussion 75 minutes before kick-off.

Full time from Anfield where Liverpool have been beaten by Crystal Palace. Big result in the race for the top four and to stave off relegation. The Eagles are nearly there.

We're around half an hour away from the teams being confirmed, so how will both sides line up tonight?

Barcelona will not risk naming Neymar in their matchday squad after withdrawing their appeal against his three-match ban for his sending off against Malaga.

For Real Madrid, Gareth Bale could return from injury while Toni Kroos may be replaced by Marco Asensio after the German's mid-week exploits.

Before we get our teeth into events in Spain, let me send you in direction of our Liverpool vs Crystal Palace live blog in the Premier League. The game is entering the closing stages at Anfield, in a pivotal game at both ends of the table.

World football's most intense rivalry takes centre stage once again with more than just intangible bragging rights on the line. Real Madrid and Barcelona are seperated by just three points in the La Liga title race, and a result one way or another could provide a pivotal swing heading into the final weeks of the campaign.

Victory for Luis Enrique's men will send them top on goal difference, while Real can extend their advantage to six with a game more to play. They would surely have one hand on the crown if they prevail.

Teams news and all the build-up ahead of what could be a classic encounter on the way. ahead of he 7:45pm kick-off.

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