Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo matched each other blow for blow at the Nou Camp tonight, scoring two goals apiece as Barcelona and Real Madrid battled out an entertaining draw in the first Clásico of the La Liga season.
Heading into the game, Real Madrid trailed Barcelona by eight points, so this was billed as must-win win for the champions. Like they did when the two sides met in the Supercopa de España earlier this year, Madrid started off the better of the two sides and made the breakthrough midway through the first half when Ronaldo beat Víctor Valdés at his near post. When Karim Benzema sliced a shot onto the post and right-back Daniel Alves limped off, Barcelona looked there for the taking.
But any team that has Lionel Messi is never out of the game and he brought Barca level, firing in from close range after Pedro Rodríguez’s cross had ricocheted off three Madrid defenders.
Just after the hour, Messi put Barca ahead with a brilliant left-footed free-kick up over the wall and curling away from the diving Casillas.
Whatever Messi could do, though, Ronaldo could do too, and he quickly scored his eighth goal in La Liga this season six minutes later. Ozil slotted a slick pass through to Ronaldo, who had been played onside by Adriano and coolly slotted past Valdes.
The final quarter was end-to-end stuff, although Mourinho’s men were seemingly the more content with the point. Messi floated a shot high and wide from Jordi Alba’s cut-back, with Iniesta’s cross scrambled clear by Marcelo soon after. Gonzalo Higuain, a 62nd-minute replacement for Benzema, saw his cross deflected to safety by Mascherano before the final few minutes were played out almost entirely in Madrid’s defensive third.
Montoya was almost an unlikely match-winner on 88 minutes but his right-footed attempt from the edge of the box crashed back off the bar, before Pedro burst through in stoppage time and unleashed a left-footed shot which flew just wide.