Lionel Messi weaved his magic once again to keep 10-man Barcelona’s unbeaten season alive with a 2-2 draw against Real Madrid at the Camp Nou on Sunday.
The draw came at a cost to Real Madrid as they were left sweating over the fitness of Cristiano Ronaldo who was forced off at halftime after appearing to hurt his ankle, and is now a doubt for the Champions League final against Liverpool on May 26.
Ronaldo took the knock following a challenge from Gerard Pique as he cancelled out Luis Suarez’s opener, but he played on until the interval before Zinedine Zidane took him off for Marco Asensio.
After the dispute over a pasillo (guard of honour in Spain), Barca came out of the blocks firing and they took the lead after 10 minutes as Suarez swept Sergi Roberto’s cross into the bottom corner.
The lead, however, lasted four minutes as Ronaldo linked up with Toni Kroos whose cross was headed down by Karim Benzema for the Portuguese to guide home despite a strong challenge from Pique.
Real dictated the rest of the half and Ronaldo twice came close to giving them the lead, firing at Marc-Andre Ter Stegen after a Luka Modric through ball, before shooting wide.
The packed Camp Nou was on the edge with half-time approaching, and they must have feared the worst when Roberto was shown a straight red card after an off-the-ball scuffle with Marcelo.
But the heart-attack Clasico took an unexpected twist when Suarez found Messi in a breakaway, and the talismanic no 10 skipped away first from Ramos, and then Casemiro, before firing into the bottom corner.
Iniesta went off just before the hour to a standing ovation, and Messi, with the armband on, could have put Barca out of sight soon after he sped away from Varane, but his shot was parried away by Keylor Navas.
Real tried to make the most of their one-man advantage, and they were rewarded in the 72nd minute when Gareth Bale raced onto Asensio’s pass and whipped the ball first-time into the top corner.
Marcelo was denied a penalty claim late on as Ernesto Valverde’s men held on for the draw that keeps their incredible unbeaten season alive.
Barca, already crowned champions, are now three matches away from becoming the first team ever to finish a 38-game La Liga season unbeaten.