Kolkata: He may have come second best to Cristiano Ronlado in terms to trophies and personal awards in the previous season but Lionel Andres Messi once again proved who is the king, when it comes to El Clasico.
Left with a humiliating smile as Ronaldo walked down the ramp to collect his fifth Ballon D’Or award having earlier collected the FIFA World’s Best Player awards and most recently the MVP of the Club World Cup, El-Classico was an opportunity for the diminutive forward to prove he is the best.
The Argentine’s response was his 25th goal against Real Madrid and 200th assist to Alexis Vidal that ensured Barcelona came home having netted three goals twice in successive seasons. It was also for the first time in La Liga history that the Catalan club won three successive La Liga matches at the Santiago Bernabeu.
It was however the opposite when the season had begun. Real were confident coming on the back of a La Liga title and a 12th Champions League crown, while Barcelona were crumbling down ever since Neymar left for PSG for a record $200 millions.
With a new coach in Ernesto Valverde at the helm things soon went from bad to worst when club record signing Ousmane Dembélé went out with a long-term injury, two games into the season. Amidst all these turbulence, the Catalan club has however maintained their 100% unbeaten streak in La Liga losing just one game in all competitions.
Playing with enormous pressure ever since Neymar Jr left Lionel Messi has been sensational this season and on Saturday netted his 52nd goal of 2017 and 18th in the current season in all competitions.
In a must win situation Los Blancos did start with confidence dominating possession in the initial stages. Ronlado whose early goal was ruled out as a offside, along with Benzema struck the upright thrice in the opening 45 minutes. They were however soon lost infront of a rampaging Barcelona.
Luis Suarez gave the visitors lead when Rakitic was allowed to make a run without any obstruction for the Madrid defence. Barcelona added a second 10 minutes later after Dani Carvajal was found to have handled the ball, for which he was shown a red.
Having failed to score from the penalty thrice in the current season, Messi however scored when it mattered the most, sending Keylor Navas the wrong away. As if the humiliation at home was not enough Los Blancos shipped in a third goal late into extra-time.
Making his signature run Messi ran past Marcelo before craving out a pass for Vidal to score. He was without his boot, but that mattered less as the little master once again exemplified why he remains the best player of this generation.
Courtesy the win, Barcelona also moved 14 points clear of second-placed Atletico Madrid with 45 points from 17 outings, while Real Madrid continuted to remain in danger of losing out the Champions League spot struggling at fourth with 31 points, just two more fifth-placed Sevilla.