Barcelona have gone level on points with Real Madrid and top on the head-to-head record. But Madrid have a game in hand. These two teams both play again on Wednesday, Barcelona hosting Osasuna, Real Madrid going to Deportivo. It’s still Madrid’s title to lose, but what a blow Messi’s winner was. Zinedine Zidane’s team could have killed off Barcelona tonight, but the Catalans played very well – it was a truly fantastic game of football – and Messi, black eye, teeth missing, was absolutely superb. Who said he’s finished? With seconds to go, having already scored one pearler, he nervelessly bagged his 500th goal for Barcelona. Do me a favour. Thanks for reading and emailing. Football, eh? It’s not so bad being Luis Enrique, after all. Bye.
Sergi Roberto surges through the middle. It’s a brilliant run. He finds Gomes. He waits for support. Then he knocks it to the overlapping Alba. The cutback rolls to – gulp – Messi and he sweeps the winner low to Navas’s right from 15 yards! That’s his 500th Barcelona goal! What a time to score it! The title race is back on!
90 min: There will be two added minutes. Can’t we have more?
89 min: Asensio isolates Pique, drops a shoulder, swerves to the left and shoots low. Ter Stegen saves well. Asensio picks up possession and crosses to Ronaldo, who drags one wide.
88 min: Football!
87 min: James tries to feed a pass into the six-yard box. It’s blocked back to him and he attempts to curl it in, but Ter Stegen’s quick and alert.
The 10 men are level! Marcelo fires a cross into the far post and James Rodriguez arrives unnoticed to loft a left-footer over Ter Stegen! Barcelona can’t defend. As it stands, Real Madrid’s three-point lead will remain intact.
85 min: Fabio Capello called Ramos’s challenge on Messi “criminal” on Sky Italia. He’s not wrong.
84 min: James Rodriguez’s deflected shot drops into Ter Stegen’s gloves.
83 min: Messi wallops a shot towards goal from 20 yards. Of course Navas saves it. Nonetheless this has been a reminder that there are still things better in life than watching Leo Messi play football.
82 min: James Rodriguez – remember him? – replaces Karim Bensema.
81 min: Ronaldo shoots over from a tight angle. He thinks it’s a corner. It’s not. Up the other end, Kovacic cynically chops Messi down from behind. Real Madrid are losing the plot. He’s booked.
80 min: Andre Gomes slides a low cross into the middle and finds, er, Gerard Pique. The centre-back controls and smashes a shot on target, but it’s another wonderful save from Navas that keeps Real Madrid in this game.
77 min: Lionel Messi controls and nicks the ball around Ramos, who jumps in two-footed and sends the Argentinian flying. The red card is straight out. That is an absurd, dangerous challenge. Ramos can’t believe it. He’s furious. He’s gesturing at Gerard Pique, I think, that his talk’s got him sent off, but that was utterly moronic and he can have no complaints about the 22nd red card of his career. He could have broken Messi’s leg if he had made proper contact. Real Madrid are down to 10 men.
75 min: Ronaldo shoots straight at Ter Stegen from 18 yards.
74 min: As it stands, Barcelona are going level on points with Real Madrid and above them on their head-to-head record, albeit having played a game more.
This is a stunning goal. Ivan Rakitic picks up possession 20 yards from goal. He twists and turns, coming inside, on to his left foot, and curling an unstoppable shot into the far corner! There was no stopping that one. Keylor Navas is finally beaten.
72 min: Kovacic drives through midfield and picks out the dangerous Asensio on the right. He cuts inside and tries to beat Ter Stegen at his near post. The German’s not having it.
70 min: Andre Gomes replaces the impressive Paco Alcacer. Real Madrid also make a change, Mateo Kovacic on for Casemiro. “Whenever I see Keylor Navas in action, I can’t help but think that Real Madrid lucked out when their fax machine broke down,” says Kari Tulinius. “What a great keeper.”
68 min: Keylor Navas makes another terrific save! Andres Iniesta lollops through the middle, then pierces Real Madrid with a stunning pass with the outside of his right boot. Suarez lets it bounce before volleying from close range, but Navas makes the save. Moments later, Messi shoots venomously from 20 yards. Navas beats it away.
67 min: What a miss from Cristiano Ronaldo! Real Madrid counter, Benzema carving open Barcelona’s offside trap with a pass through to Asensio on the right. Asensio slides it across to Ronaldo, but he’s falling as he shoots – the pass is maybe just behind him – and he skews the ball high and wide!
66 min: Asensio sends a cross to the far post. Ronaldo goes for the spectacular, but his overhead kick goes miles wide.
64 min: A rare lull.
63 min: Marcelo whips a splendid cross towards the far post. Alba heads it behind. Ronaldo was lurking.
62 min: Carvajal’s annoyed with Suarez after a scything tackle. The height of petulance.
60 min: “I think that Modric and Kroos, Iniesta and Busquets, have demonstrated tonight exactly what you highlighted in the City-Arsenal MBM: the elite continental European teams exude calmness, clarity and vision on the ball in a way that the top English teams simply do not,” says Matt Loten. “Which also makes Luis Enrique’s gameplan of effectively bypassing the midfield for the past three years an odd one. Not that the three up top he was trying to get more involved are a bunch of chancers, mind.”
This is so many levels higher than what we saw earlier. Different sports.
59 min: A corner to Barcelona on the left. Rakitic curls it in, Pique heads powerfully and Navas shows stunning reflexes to push it away.
58 min: Messi plays Suarez in, but his touch is poor and the ball runs away from him.
57 min: Messi curls a free-kick miles over.
Now it’s Keylor Navas’s turn to save Real Madrid! Rakitic brilliantly releases Alcacer with a smart touch, but his toepoked finish is saved by Navas.
54 min: Modric loops a volley just wide from 25 yards. Real Madrid have been full of purpose since half-time.
53 min: What a save from Ter Stegen! Marcelo dashes down the left and crosses to the near post. Benzema’s header is powerful and low, but Ter Stegen spreads himself and saves with his feet!
48 min: Kroos carefully guides a left-footer towards the left corner from 20 yards. Ter Stegen pushes it away.
47 min: Asensio dribbles up the right and feeds the overlapping Carvajal. Pique denies Ronaldo or Benzema a certain goal by sliding in to turn the ball behind, making sure not to put it in his own net.
46 min: Barcelona get the second half underway. It would be really lovely if it’s as good as the first.
45 min+3: Rakitic swings the corner towards the far post, Navas misses it and collides with Suarez, Messi sometimes volleys wide of an open goal!
45 min+2: Alba makes a great run down the left, but Nacho cuts out his ball towards Suarez. Nacho seems to have hurt his ankle.
45 min+1: Casemiro, on a booking, trips the raiding Messi after being beaten by yet more skill. He’s very lucky not to be shown a second yellow card. Luis Enrique’s furious.
44 min: The problem for Real Madrid – and it’s quite a big problem – is that Leo Messi looks like he has a point to prove this evening.
43 min: Barcelona are playing now. Suarez bursts to the byline on the right and crosses to the far post. Under pressure, Alba volleys wide.
41 min: Messi speeds away from the wheezing Casemiro and tries to loft a pass over the top to Suarez. Real Madrid hastily get it away from Suarez, but here’s Messi again. One touch. Shot. The ball loops just wide. Messi’s convinced it took a deflection off Carvajal, not that the bandage in his mouth lets him tell the referee. He looks very strange at the moment.
40 min: Marcos Asensio replaces Gareth Bale.
39 min: Umtiti raps Ronaldo’s ankles on the left. He’s booked.
37 min: Bale’s gone down clutching his left ankle. “Spanish TV says it is offside,” says H Carter. “The BBC says it is offside. Messi has just scored. Business as usual then.” Bale was offside, but Ramos, the man who got the touch, was on.
A Freelance Journalist, Entrepreneur and Philanthropist. Editor-in-Chief of www.233times.com. A contributory writer for Ghanaian Chronicle Newspaper. An alumnus of Adisadel College where he read General Arts. He holds first degree in Bachelor of Arts from the University of Ghana; Political Science (major) and History (minor). He has also pursued MSc Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) and Energy with Public Relations (PR) at the Robert Gordon University in the United Kingdom. His mentors are Rupert Murdoch, Warren Buffet, Sam Jonah, Kwaku Sakyi Addo and Piers Morganview all posts by: Nana Kwesi Coomson
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