Lionel Messi struck twice to move within one goal of matching Alfredo Di Stéfano's Clásico record, but it was not enough for FC Barcelona to claim victory at the Camp Nou as Cristiano Ronaldo earned Real Madrid CF a draw.
With the Merengues already eight points adrift of their great rivals at the summit, this was billed as must-win by some and the visitors certainly began with impetus. They made the breakthrough midway through the first half, Ronaldo beating Víctor Valdés at his near post and for a moment, as Karim Benzema sliced onto the post and right-back Daniel Alves limped off, Barcelona looked there for the taking.
Messi swiftly suppressed such thoughts, firing in from close range after Pedro Rodríguez's cross had ricocheted off three Madrid defenders. Just after the hour, he put the home side in front from rather further out, curling in a free-kick for his 17th goal in this fixture. Five minutes later, it was all square again courtesy of Ronaldo, and although only the width of the bar denied Alves' replacement Martín Montoya a sensational late winner, it ended honours even.
That meant Club Atlético de Madrid could go level with Barcelona at the summit with victory over Málaga CF and they did not disappoint. Falcao did the damage at either end of the game, heading in a predatory sixth-minute opener and then, after Roque Santa Cruz had equalised, helping force the ball in as he and defender Weligton contested a cross with seconds remaining following a well-worked free-kick.
The Camp Nou was not the only place to host a derby on Sunday. There was another further down the east coast, where a stunning Obafemi Martins volley earned Levante UD a 1-0 win against city rivals Valencia CF. The Nigeria forward struck midway through the first half, controlling goalkeeper Gustavo Munúa's clearance on his chest before smashing a shot into the roof of the net. Victory allowed Levante to leapfrog their opponents into 11th.
Athletic Club held off stiff late pressure from CA Osasuna to claim a welcome win courtesy of Aritz Aduriz's early strike, while Gabriel Torje won a penalty and scored as fellow strugglers Granada CF saw off RCD Mallorca 2-1 in a game both teams ended with ten men. In the late kick-off, Club Atlético de Madrid are facing Málaga CF.
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|Last updated: 10/04/2013 17:45 CET|
Santa Cruz 36
Messi 31, 61
Ronaldo 23, 66
Aritz Aduriz 12
|Venue: Palma de Mallorca|
Verdú 70 (P)
Diego Castro 64 (P)
Pizzi 41 (P)
|2||Club Atlético de Madrid||7||19|
|4||Real Betis Balompié||7||12|
|5||Real Madrid CF||7||11|
|8||Real Valladolid CF||7||10|
|10||Rayo Vallecano de Madrid||7||10|
|12||RC Celta de Vigo||7||9|
|13||Real Sociedad de Fútbol||7||9|
|18||RC Deportivo La Coruña||7||6|