Messi believes Clasico win an important measure towards LaLiga glory

Defeat on Sunday would have effectively ended the Catalans' title hopes, but Messi's stoppage-time victor - his 500th goal for the club - saw them move level on points with their arch-rivals instead.

Barcelona overtake their nemesis Real Madrid to lead the La Liga title race.

Cristiano Ronaldo was furious when Samuel Umtiti tripped him in the box and referee Alejandro Jose Hernandez waved away his appeal, but Barcelona were complaining afterwards when Marcelo got away with an elbow on Messi.

It was the second consecutive win by Barcelona at the Bernabeu.

Messi is enjoying another remarkable season, with 47 goals in 46 games.

Ivan Rakitic's stunning strike and a red card for Madrid captain Sergio Ramos for chopping down Messi 13 minutes from time put Barca on course for victory before James Rodriguez came off the bench to level four minutes from time.

However, Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane lamented his side's inability to see the game out with a man less at 2-2 that would have seen them remain very much in the driving seat for a first title in five years. He redirected a cross by Marcelo only three minutes after he had entered the match to replace Karim Benzema.

Ramos was sent off with a straight red card in the 77th minute after a foul on Messi to stop the playmaker from a one-on-one situation in a breakaway.

Marc-Andre ter Stegen, who made several important saves to keep Real Madrid at bay in the second half, also hailed Messi.

The Brazilian opened the scoring for Real Madrid in the 28th minute, tapping home at the back post after Ramos had fired Marcelo's cross against the post.

Las Palmas and Alaves played out a 1-1 draw that kept both teams near the middle of the table.

  • Julie Sanders