Football

El Clasico: Messi & Ronaldo both scored but failed to win it for their team in a riveting contest

[caption id="attachment_66606" align="aligncenter" width="580"]DciuVkKXUAAw4wP Barcelona and Real Madrid played out a 2-2 draw last night. Image Source: twitter[/caption]

XtraTime Web Desk: Another riveting contest comes to an end, as 10 men FC Barcelona failed to beat Real Madrid in the El Clasico despite taking the lead twice in a game where the referring decisions became the main talking points.

Barcelona are three games away from completing an unbeaten season after this draw with Real Madrid and with the Camp Nou chanting “Champions!”.

A game that was supposed to be decaffeinated, nothing riding on it, Barcelona champions already, was instead among the most tense and controversial in recent memory and the referee appeared to be the most controversial man on the pitch with a series of wrong decisions during the game. With eight yellow cards, one red card, four goals, countless confrontations, the tension went all the way to the end.

Barcelona took the lead early. Luis Suárez, back to goal scoring duties and receiving on the halfway line, turned the ball sharply first time into the run of Sergi Roberto, dashing into the space behind Marcelo and bending a superb ball towards the far post. There, Suárez was steaming in to guide the volley past Keylor Navas for his sixth Clásico goal – more than anyone else since his arrival in 2014 – and setting off in search of his seventh.

Soon after he tumbled under a challenge from Navas, but it was Real who were about to take control. Toni Kroos, free of Sergio Busquets and running at the Barcelona defence, combined with Ronaldo and clipped the ball to the far post where Karim Benzema nodded it back and the Portuguese forced it over the line. Only 15 minutes had gone and more goals might have swiftly followed. Ronaldo headed over; next he was blocked by Marc-Andre Ter Stegen; and then, played in by Kroos, struck hard and low just beyond the far post. All that in just three minutes.

The tension was rising, too. Alba and Modric squared up, as did Suárez and Sergio Ramos, and Messi was booked for a foul on the Madrid captain. Gareth Bale escaped the same fate for a dreadful challenge on Alba. And just before half-time, Sergi Roberto was sent off for lashing out after Marcelo bumped into him.

Barça’s task appeared to be just to hang on, but it did not turn out that way. Marco Asensio, on for Ronaldo, who had twisted his ankle, was sent racing through but couldn’t find the finish, and a minute later Barcelona were back in the lead. Luis Suárez scrambled away from Raphaël Varane, who he seemed to trip as he went past. With Varane down, Suárez found Messi in the area, who escaped Ramos and curled a perfect finish into the bottom corner.

As Madrid pushed, Suárez sent Messi dashing through, but Navas made a superb save. That might have been it, but Madrid struck back immediately, Bale providing a superb finish to Marco Asensio’s pass, bent beautifully into the net.

With 15 minutes remaining, Marcelo went flying in the Barcelona area. The drama of the fall may have disguised the fact that Alba’s boot made contact with his shin, and the home side escaped this time, but they still had to hold on, their with energy levels dropping. Modric hit over, and the hosts might have taken the lead for a third time when Messi dropped a lovely shot just wide and then drew a save from Navas at the near post. Instead, they had to resist, their grip slipping with each second, but ultimately they held on.

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