Messi 'the best player in history'

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Lionel Messi's last-gasp victor for Barcelona in Sunday's 3-2 win over Real Madrid in the El Clasico clash, which left the La Liga title race wide open, overshadowed the fact that it was the Argenitine maestro's 500th for the club.

Ivan Rakitic sent Barcelona ahead with a long-range effort with less than 20 to go, Sergio Ramos saw red for a unsafe two-footed tackle on Messi before James Rodriguez levelled proceedings in the 86th minute for the home side after smashing home a Marcelo's cross.

Prior to those late goals, a breathless and controversial contest looked like it would be settled by Ivan Rakitic's excellent strike, especially when Sergio Ramos was sent off for a lunge on Messi.

Barcelona boss Luis Enrique declared Lionel Messi "the best player in history" after the Argentina star's last-minute victor at Real Madrid yesterday morning (Singapore time) blew open the La Liga title race.

Messi struck twice in a dramatic victory to take Barcelona to the top of LaLiga.

Barcelona go top because they have a better head-to-head record than Real, but Zinedine Zidane's team have a game on hand with six matches left to play.

Brazilian Casemiro opened Madrid's account in the 28th minute, but saw his effort neutralized, by Messi, five minutes later.

Madrid continued to control after the break, with Ter Stegen saving from Toni Kroos prior to he impressively managed to keep out a close-range Benzema header with his legs after great work from Marcelo down the left.

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Sergio Ramos gave the visitors the lead in the 72nd minute but the Argentine had the last say as his third three minutes from time salvaged a draw. "We are really happy for the victory and for him, because we need him".

"It is marvellous for us to win in the 92nd minute". The most marked man in all of football, and for good reason, displaying his uncanny ability to find space. "Florentino Perez promised me I could do it many years ago, that when I won a major he would let me take the kick-off, and now it has coincided with a Clasico". "In modern football when everyone is tactically and physically better he still makes the difference".

Ramos felt it was harsh to dismiss him for the clash with Messi, and added: "The sending-off was a key moment because they scored in the last minute".

"We can not be happy", Zidane said.

A fit Gareth Bale was back in the Madrid side with Isco forced to drop down to the substitute's bench and Paco Alcacer replaced the suspended Neymar in the Barcelona line-up as expected.

The home side had started the game strongly, creating several chances and taking an early lead. Barca kept their 4-4-2 structure without the ball, but hardly shut up shop, and Madrid engineered unsafe counters at a time when Barca should have stayed more compact.

"I'm sure when he (Ramos) gets home he will see that it's a red". I did not go to injure him. "I don't talk about the referees because they can make mistakes like any of us and I'm never going to discuss it".

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