Brazilian nets twice in 3-0 win over Bilbao before Messi repeats trick as Barca beat Almeria 3-1 in La Liga.
|Messi slots home his 49th goal of the season [GALLO/GETTY]|
Cristiano Ronaldo’s late penalty cancelled out counterpart Lionel Messi’s as 10-man Real Madrid rallied for a 1-1 draw against leaders Barcelona on Saturday in Spain’s Primera Division.
Ronaldo cleanly beat goalkeeper Victor Valdes in the 82nd minute for his first career goal against Barcelona after Daniel Alves brought Marcelo down inside the area.
Messi scored his 49th goal of the season from the penalty spot in the 53rd to put the visitors ahead at Santiago Bernabeu Stadium after Madrid defender Raul Albiol was red-carded for tugging striker David Villa down inside the area.
Madrid scored points against their biggest rivals for the first time in six games but remain eight points behind the two-time defending champions with six rounds left.
Madrid were in danger of starting the first of four “clasicos” against their historic rival with defeat after Albiol’s sending off deflated a first 50 minutes in which coach Jose Mourinho’s defensive tactics had largely stymied the visitor’s attack.
While the result was unlikely to improve their chances of denying Barcelona a third straight league trophy, Madrid can go into Wednesday’s Copa del Rey final at Valencia with momentum after erasing memories of November’s 5-0 loss at Camp Nou. The two Spanish giants still have a two-leg Champions League semifinal to play.
Even the normally diminutive Messi let out a cry of “Vamos!” (“Let’s Go!”) after scoring the opener, his league-leading 30th goal that moved him one shy of becoming the first Spanish league player to reach the half century mark.
Mourinho looked to frustrate Barcelona with a block of defensive players in the centre of his line-up, and it largely worked as Barcelona were often forced to backpedal under pressure with Messi the only Barcelona player able to penetrate the area in the first half.
|Results & fixtures|
Saturday April 16
Getafe 1-0 Sevilla
Sunday April 17
Deportivo v Racing
Monday April 18
Villarreal v Real Zaragoza
Messi, whose 19th-minute chip was stopped by Casillas, darted across the area and, surrounded by four white shirts, managed to unleash a rising shot that Casillas saved in the 44th.
Moments after Barcelona’s best effort of the half, Madrid replied with their own as Ronaldo – whose poor touch in the 34th erased a solo chance from inside the area – watched as Barcelona defender Adriano cleared his header off the line in the 45th.
Madrid’s best chances were off counterattacks or set-pieces and Ronaldo again looked on in disbelief in the 50th after beating Valdes again only for his dipping free kick to come off the bottom of the post.
Villa’s scoreless streak reached 10 games but his tussle with Spain teammate Albiol set up the goal and meant the Madrid defender misses the cup final after being shown a direct red card.
Mourinho replaced Benzema with Oezil after that while Barcelona captain Carles Puyol – playing for the first time since January because of a knee injury – made way for Seydou Keita.
Xavi Hernandez curled a shot off the crossbar in the 64th as the Catalan side found more space to work with, while Pepe somehow bungled a chance in front of Valdes soon after.
But striker Emmanuel Adebayor’s entrance in the 67th gave Madrid a large target up front and they nearly capitalised several times before Daniel Alves tripped up his fellow Brazilian for Ronaldo to score his 29th league goal.
Madrid’s players and the Bernabeu celebrated the draw nearly as heartily as victory after rallying to take points off a team coached by Pep Guardiola for the first time.