Saturday March 23, 2014
Real Madrid - Lopez, Carvajal, Pepe, Ramos, Marcelo, Alonso, Modric, Di Maria, Bale, Ronaldo, Benzema.
Barcelona - Valdes, Alves, Mascherano, Pique, Alba, Busquets, Xavi, Fabregas, Iniesta, Neymar, Messi.
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Referee Undiano Mallecano was a central figure, awarding three penalties and sending off Sergio Ramos during the game, with Barca making the most of their man advantage to claim a crucial win. The result puts Barca just a point behind Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid in the league table, with just nine games left to be played. Barca opened the scoring after just seven minutes, when Andres Iniesta drifted out to the left side to exploit space left free by Dani Carvajal. The Spanish midfielder took a touch to control a fine Messi pass before smashing into the top corner. However, the response from Real Madrid was impressive, with Karim Benzema restoring parity on 20 minutes, rising highest to meet Angel Di Maria’s cross and power a header into the net. The Catalans were struggling to deal with Di Maria, and the Argentine put on the second goal for Benzema, digging out a cross from the byline to find the French striker, who controlled the ball on his knee before volleying home. Yet Barca levelled the score just before the break, when a previously lethargic Messi wriggled past two opposition players to slot into the bottom corner of Diego Lopez’s net. After a good start to the second half by Barcelona, Real Madrid were afforded the chance to re-take the lead when Cristiano Ronaldo was tripped by Dani Alves, with the Portuguese winger dusting himself off to convert from 12 yards. But Barca responded with a penalty of their own through Messi, after Sergio Ramos, who was shown a red card for his troubles, felled Neymar in the area. And the visitors took the lead after being awarded another penalty, with Messi stepping up after a foul on Iniesta by Xabi Alonso, to find the top corner of the Real Madrid net, securing a crucial 4-3 win.