Mar 23, 2014, 5:51 PM EDT
A match rife with controversy, excitement, embellishment and goals, goals, goals pushed Barcelona one point back of Real Madrid, now locked in a tie for first place with Atletico Madrid.
After a first half of epic proportions found Sunday’s El Clasico knotted up at 2, La Liga giants Barcelona and hosts Real Madrid doubled down on the excitement in a second half befitting of the hype.
The first tally of the second half found Ronaldo winning a controversial penalty after some boot-to-boot contact with Dani Alves that appeared to occur just outside the box. He finished low and hard to the left of Valdes to restore Madrid’s lead, 3-2 in the 55th.
But the PK shoe was on the other foot eight minutes later as Sergio Ramos picked up a red card for Real Madrid. If the first decision carried controversy, this one was that and then some, as Neymar was free of Ramos when he appeared to trip over his own two feet, literally, inside the box. Lionel Messi finished and it was 3-3.
Dani Alves’ strong strike in the 74th minute beat the keeper but struck the post hard as Barca poured forward against Real’s 10 men.
Barca won the match’s third penalty in the 84th minute, when Xavi collided with Xabi Alonso inside the box. Messi converted his hat trick but more importantly launched Blaugrana within a point of both Madrid teams.
You have to feel a little bit for Atletico Madrid, who dispatched Real Betis 2-0 on the road earlier on Sunday. Braian Rodriguez saw red in the 55th minute for the hosts, and Diego Costa and Gabi scored in the second half to give them 70 points on the season, temporarily vaulting Atletico into a first-place tie with Real.
- Celta Vigo 0-2 Malaga — A brace from Ignacio Camacho staked the road side to its lead before a red card to Duda made it 10 men and “hold on tight.” They did.
- Granada 1-0 Elche — Yacine Brahimi’s 63rd minute goal was later helped out by a red card to Elche as Grenada pulled into 11th place and relative safety in the survival fight.
- Valladolid 1-1 Rayo Vallecano 1 — An own goal was offset by Alberto Bueno before half, but the draw keeps the visitors safe and the hosts three points behind in 18th place.
- Osasuna 1-2 Sevilla — Carlos Bacca’s penalty conversion in first-half stoppage time held up as the match-winner as Sevilla moves into fifth for at least a day.
- Valencia 2-1 Villarreal – Javi Fuego outdoes Giovani dos Santos two goals to one, but the visitors still hold a six-point advantage between the 7th and 8th place teams.
- Espanyol 0-0 Levante – An 88th minute red to Levante’s Víctor Casadesús didn’t provide enough time for the hosts to find a winner.
- Athletic 1-0 Getafe – Markel Susaeta played hero with a 40th minute tally
- Almeria vs. Real Sociedad – Monday
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