Messi the man in El Clasico
By Andrew Scurr
Last Updated: 01/01/70 1:00am
Barcelona and Real Madrid shared the spoils in a six goal thriller at Camp Nou.
Lionel Messi scored a hat-trick, including a stoppage-time equaliser as Barcelona and Real Madrid shared the spoils in a six goal thriller at Camp Nou.
Ruud van Nistelrooy bagged a brace and Sergio Ramos appeared to have won it with a second-half header but Messi was the hero for the ten men of Barca.
The game certainly lived up to its El Clasico name in the first-half, with four goals, a penalty and a sending off in the first 45 minutes alone.
Ruud van Nistelrooy pounced on a loose ball on the edge of the area to open the scoring with a sublime finish inside five minutes, but Messi soon had the hosts level.
The Argentinian international slotted home left-footed past Iker Casillas to equalise Real's opener.
However, parity lasted a matter of moments as van Nistelrooy made no mistake from the penalty spot, sending Victor Valdes the wrong way, after Oleguer tripped Guti in the area.
A frantic opening also saw Samuel Eto'o and Rafael Marquez both go close before Messi beat Casillas for the second time.
Ronaldinho made a jinking run into the box only to see his initial shot saved, but Messi was waiting to drill home the rebound into the top of Real's net.
Messi almost had his hat-trick before half-time, only for his effort to hit the outside of the net, and Eto'o was denied what looked a certain goal by Michel Salgado's superb challenge after Ronaldinho's ball across goal.
There was still time for further incident in stoppage time in the first-half and Oleguer, who was shown a yellow card for his foul on Guti earlier, was given his marching orders for a second bookable offence.
The game was less open after the break but Valdes appeared determined to deny van Nistelrooy his hat-trick as he pulled off a string of saves, including one fantastic stop when it appeared the Dutchman was certain to score through one-on-one.
Valdes was eventually beaten, but by a fantastic header from Sergio Ramos as Guti's in-swinging free-kick was flicked in off the underside of the crossbar by the stopper.
Andres Iniesta twice fired agonisingly wide, while Casillas had to be at his best to palm Marquez's volley over the crossbar.
Barca finished strongly and Messi got his hat-trick in stoppage time at the end of the game when keeping a cool head to dispatch past Casillas and salvage a point which takes the hosts back top.
Click below for match summary:
Barcelona 3-3 Real Madrid