Real Madrid cut the gap between themselves and Barcelona to 13 points with a morale-boosting home win over the Catalans.
Real Madrid - Benzema 6; Ramos 81
Barcelona - Messi 17
Karim Benzema gave Los Blancos an early lead but Lionel Messi levelled just over ten minutes later to become the joint-top scorer of all time in the Clasico.
Sergio Ramos headed in a corner to restore Madrid’s lead with nine minutes remaining and Barca keeper Victor Valdes was sent off on the final whistle for a second yellow card after arguing with referee Miguel Angel Perez Lasa.
Madrid coach Jose Mourinho, presumably with an eye on his side’s Champions League last-16 second leg match against Manchester United at Old Trafford in two days’ time, put out a very different team to the one that beat Barcelona last Tuesday in the semi-final second leg of the Copa del Rey. Cristiano Ronaldo, Mesut Ozil, Sami Khedira, Gonzalo Higuain and Alvaro Arbeloa all started on the bench, with Kaka, Benzema, Luka Modric, Alvaro Morata and Michael Essien drafted in.
Barcelona put out an almost identical side to the one which lost on Tuesday, with the exception of Cesc Fabregas and the injured Xavi Hernandez, who made way for Thiago Alcantara and David Villa.
Despite Madrid having the weaker side out, they scored after just six minutes. Morata picked the ball up on the left wing, beat Dani Alves and delivered a low ball across the box which Benzema tapped in from just a few yards.
Barca sought an immediate response but created few chances despite their superior possession. However, they were level on 17 minutes.
Dani Alves delivered a low through-ball into the path of Messi, who drove into the box and shot into the bottom corner.
It was Messi’s 39th goal of the season in the Primera Division and his 18th in a Clasico, drawing him level with fellow Argentine Alfredo Di Stefano.
Madrid hit back with a winner nine minutes before full-time, Sergio Ramos rising to head home Modric’s corner.