Barcelona retained their eight point lead over Los Blancos in the race for the Liga title after 10-man Real Madrid rescued a point in the Clasico at the Bernabeu. The two sides now prepare to do battle again in four days time in the Copa del Rey final.
Lionel Messi put his side into the lead from the spot following Raul Albiol’s reckless challenge on David Villa, which earned the defender a red card.
Madrid were awarded a penalty of their own in the 82nd minute when Marcelo was fouled by Dani Alves, allowing Cristiano Ronaldo to score his first goal against Barcelona in seven matches.
The opening exchanges were fast paced and energetic as the two teams looked to gain an advantage but neither side were able to keep hold of possession to make an impact on the game.
Ronaldo had the game’s first shot on target, a free-kick, after Sami Khedira had been fouled. The Portuguese striker took his customary stance before firing towards Victor Valdes’ goal but the keeper was able to make an easy save.
Real Madrid’s defence was left motionless when Lionel Messi ran in behind them a short time later. The Argentine controlled it instantaneously before looking to chip Iker Casillas but the Spanish No. 1 was able to pluck the ball out the air.
Los Blancos looked to run the Blaugrana defence as they threatened the Barca goal with purpose. Karim Benzema saw a shot fumbled unconvincingly around the post by Valdes, and from the resultant corner Ronaldo saw a header narrowly miss the goal.
The referee, Mr Muniz Fernandez, became the centre of attention after Ronaldo hurdled over Gerard Pique, to which the referee waved play on despite CR7’s protests.
David Villa then followed a pass into the penalty area and managed to toe the ball beyond the advancing Casillas before the Spanish stopper seemed to bring Villa down. Mr Muniz Fernandez remained unmoved, awarding the home side a goal kick to the amazement of the Barca players.
As the game began to settle once again Real Madrid shifted through the gears and created a terrific opening for Ronaldo, but the striker’s touch failed him allowing Adriano to make a crucial tackle.
The game came alive minutes before the half-time whistle when Lionel Messi became involved again. The maestro darted in between the Madrid players before laying the ball into Pedro.
Messi had continued his run beyond the Real Madrid defence and the Ballon d’Or winner looked to unleash a venomous dive, but Casillas was equal to Messi’s shot punching the ball away to safety.Los Blancos in turn created their best chance of the half when Sergio Ramos nodded a corner back across to Ronaldo. The Portuguese international could only watch in frustration as his header was miraculously cleared of the line by Adriano to ensure the sides ended the half level.
The Maestro | Lionel Messi gives Real Madrid the run around
The second-half began in the same manner of the first, with Ronaldo lining up a free-kick. He drove the ball over the wall but could only watch helplessly on as it crashed against the base of the post before going behind.
Drama then ensued as Villa got on the wrong side of Raul Albiol, forcing the defender to man-handle the Spain international. Mr Muniz Fernandez had no hesitation in pointing to the penalty spot, as he went to his top pocket to show Raul Albiol the red card.
Lionel Messi calmed himself as he stepped-up before hammering the spot-kick past Casillas to score his first goal against a Jose Mourinho coached team.
Xavi came close to doubling Barcelona’s lead soon after when his angled drive came agonisingly close to nestling in at the far post.
Real Madrid looked to force the game onto the Catalan club but Victor Valdes was left largely untroubled despite the introduction of Emmanuel Adebayor and Mesut Ozil.
Messi continued to grow into the game and began to force Madrid’s defence to back-pedal as he attacked them at pace.
He moved the ball onto David Villa, who had found space in Madrid’s area but the striker continued his goalless streak as he could only side-foot his shot to a grateful Casillas.
Madrid were awarded a late penalty-kick when Dani Alves was adjudged to have brought down Marcelo in the area giving Cristiano Ronaldo the chance to end his own goal scoring drought against Barcelona and salvage a point for the hosts.
Ronaldo stepped-up unnerved to dispatch his penalty kick past Valdes to pull Real Madrid back into the tie.
Barcelona came close in the late stages through Villa and Messi but neither man was able to restore Barca’s advantage, and they nearly found themselves behind when Emmanuel Adebayor played the ball back to Sami Khedira. The German set himself but could only direct his low drive straight at Victor Valdes in the closing stages
Neither side was able to make the breakthrough late on as the first of four Clasico matches in 18 days ended in a draw, leaving the mouth watering for the remaining contests.