By Williams ‘Bantu’ Irubor
Barcelona boss Luis Enrique declared Lionel Messi “the best player in history” after the Argentina star’s last-minute winner at Real Madrid blew open the La Liga title race.
Messi’s 500th Barcelona goal – struck with the last kick of a thrilling match – gave the visitors a memorable 3-2 Bernabeu victory and takes them to the La Liga summit.
The two sides are level on 75 points, but Barcelona sit top by virtue of having the better head-to-head record from the two games with Real.
Zinedine Zidane’s side do have a game in hand with six matches to play, but Barcelona will be hoping for a momentum shift after Messi ended his run of six Clasico games without a goal.
“He is the best player in history, he is incredibly decisive at all times,” Enrique was quoted as saying by Marca.
Casemiro gave Real a 28th-minute lead after Sergio Ramos had hooked against the post. But Barcelona were level within five minutes when Messi burst on to Ivan Rakitic’s pass on the edge of the box and finished in style.
In a see-saw contest, Rakitic put Barcelona ahead with a ferocious 73rd-minute drive before Ramos was sent off four minutes later for a two-footed challenge on Messi.
Real appeared to have salvaged a point when substitute James Rodriguez converted from close range five minutes from time. But Messi had the final word with his 16th Clasico goal in La Liga matches, which is a record.