Pep Guardiola's men showed excellent resilience to bounce back from going a goal down after 22 seconds to defeat their bitter rivals 3-1 at the Santiago BernabeuBarcelona was the comeback king at the Santiago Bernabeu as the champion recovered from conceding within the first minute to defeat bitter rival Real Madrid 3-1 in the seventh and final Clasico of 2011.
Jose Mourinho's men took the lead after only 22 seconds when Karim Benzema grabbed the quickest goal in Clasico history. The home side was pegged back on the half hour mark when Alexis Sanchez grabbed an equalizer in his first league appearance against Madrid.
A Xavi volley took a fortuitous deflection off Marcelo to give the visiting side the lead and Cesc Fabregas' header finished off a wonderful team move in the 66th minute in what proved to be the fixture's final strike.
The victory sends Barcelona level on points with Jose Mourinho's men and to the top of the Liga table due to their superior head-to-head record against Madrid, which have a game in hand.
In one of the most astonishing starts in the history of Clasicos, Real Madrid was a goal to the good within 22 seconds. Victor Valdes' poor clearance fell to the feet of Angel Di Maria who drilled the ball into the penalty area only for Sergio Busquets to block its progress. Mesut Ozil's attempted volley deflected off Busquets into the path of Benzema to fire home six yards from goal.
Madrid was left to rue opportunities to double the lead when Barcelona drew level on the half hour mark with Messi on hand to turn provider. The 24-year-old bypassed several challenges before sliding a weighted through ball to Sanchez who calmly slotted past Casillas from the edge of the area to bring his side back into the game and all square at the break.
After an edgy opening to the second period, Barcelona was handed the lead thanks to a large slice of fortune on 53 minutes. Xavi's speculative volley 20 meters from goal took a massive deflection off Marcelo, fooling a wrong-footed Casillas with the ball spinning off the post and into the back of the net.
The visiting side extended the lead in the 66th minute after a breathtaking counterattack. Messi slid the ball out to the right for Dani Alves to whip a beautiful cross towards the back post where Fabregas was on cue to coolly head the ball into the far corner in what was to be the final goal of a pulsating encounter.
Next up for Real Madrid is a trip to Ponferradina on Tuesday as the club looks to defend its Copa del Rey title. Barcelona now heads to Japan where it will feature in the Club World Cup. The team's first task will be a semifinal meeting against either Esperance or Al Sadd on Thursday.