Messi hits Barca 500 with last gasp El Clasico victor

"We thought we could score a third goal", he said.

Only recently has Luis Enrique's side gathered momentum in La Liga; thanks in part to Madrid's erratic recent form in the league, allowing the Catalan side to take pole position.

"We are really focused on it and there will be nothing more to say than we have two more competitions - La Liga and Copa del Rey - where we can win the trophies".

Fresh from dumping Bayern Munich out the Champions League in a 4-2 thriller after extra-time in midweek, Madrid had started confidently in another breathless encounter at the Bernabeu.

However, Madrid still have the advantage as they have a game in hand.

Not even a black eye and missing teeth after Marcelo's elbow clipped him in the first-half could halt Messi.

Messi's victor at the Bernabeu came after Sergi Roberto made a great run from Barcelona's defense, leading to Alba's low pass across the area as Messi came charging to one-touch the ball into the corner past the diving Keylor Navas.

Barca found themselves on the back foot in the Spanish capital when Casemiro opened the scoring for Madrid in the 28th minute, only for Messi to hit back against the run of play five minutes later.

Barcelona's Marc-Andre ter Stegen also came up with big stops, including a header by Benzema and a shot by Marco Asensio.

The German dived low to his left to turn global teammate Toni Kroos's effort behind before diverting Karim Benzema's goalbound header to safety with his outstretched foot.

The visitors seemed to be in control after Madrid captain was sent off for a wild two-footed lunge on Messi with 13 minutes left.

This victory means that Barcelona are now above Real Madrid at the top of the table due to their superior goal difference.

James Rodriguez then put Real back on level terms in 85th minute after which, the home side kept the pressure on the visiting defence.

Ramos appeared to sarcastically clap the officials after being sent off and was also involved in a war of words with Barcelona's Gerard Pique as he left the field.

  • Julie Sanders