Lionel Messi puts the heat on as the greatest ever player decides one of Barcaelona’s all-time best clashes with Real Madrid
THE 266th El Clasico will be remembered as one one of the greatest ever — and was decided by the greatest player in history.
Fans around the world hailed Lionel Messi on Sunday night as they revelled in a match that will stand the test of time.
Argentine icon Messi led Barcelona to a last-gasp 3-2 triumph at Real Madrid and the Catalans now top La Liga because of a better head-to-head record.
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The Barca hero then cranked up the pressure on Madrid as the race for La Liga reaches melting point.
Messi said: “We went to the Bernabeu looking for a win to keep ourselves in the battle for the Liga title.
“There’s still a long way to go, but we came away with the joy of having taken an important step. #Never follow.”
Madrid are level on points and have a game in hand — away to Manchester United’s Europa League rivals Celta Vigo.
The date for that league fixture has not been decided yet because of the Uefa matches.
Messi struck twice, including Barcelona’s winner at Real Madrid with a brace that marked two massive landmarks.He became the greatest scorer in Clasico history with 33 strikes.
And he reached 501 goals for Barcelona.
Messi’s attempt was clear. To crank up the pressure on Real Madrid who have a game in hand.
And his #neverfollow dig was designed wind up his rival Cristiano Ronaldo who was anonymous in the Spanish supermatch.
Messi proved yet again why he is the greatest player in history with a confounding performance. A seminal display in the game’s history.
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And that despite suffering a stamp from Casemiro, an elbow from Marcelo and a potentially leg-breaking two-footed lunge from Sergio Ramos.
Shamed Real skipper Ramos was sent off and went off pointing to Gerard Pique and mouthing off. He was locked in a war of words with his Spain side-kick after the match.
Ramos said: “I did not blame the ref. I was speaking to Pique not with the ref. Refs can get it right or not. It was decisive, this.
“But my thing was with Pique. I did not go to injure him. After seeing it 40 times yes I was late but I did not touch him. Messi made the most of it.”
Pique hit back: “When he goes home he will see it was a red card.
“He went in two-footed from the front when Messi was breaking through on his own.
“What happens is that they are used to permissive referees here and when there isn’t one, they react the way they do.
“I did not hear Ramos, I saw he was pointing at me, I suppose it was about the red card. When he sees the incident again he will regret it because it’s a straight red card.”