Lionel Messi struck a hat-trick in a memorable Clásico to help FC Barcelona prevail 4-3 at Real Madrid CF and leave just one point separating the Liga's top three clubs.
Madrid were hoping to move three points clear at the summit and seven ahead of Barça, yet they suffered an early setback when Andrés Iniesta fired the Catalan side ahead seven minutes in. Karim Benzema struck twice in the space of four minutes to put the hosts in front, but Messi's first a minute before the interval made it 2-2 at the break.
Cristiano Ronaldo restored Madrid's lead from the penalty spot, but the game swung again as Sergio Ramos was shown a red card for bringing down Neymar in the area. Messi converted from the spot and repeated the feat with six minutes remaining after Iniesta was fouled in the box.
Barcelona remain third, a point behind their opponents and Club Atlético de Madrid after the Rojiblancos dealt Real Betis Balompié a defeat 2-0 earlier in the day. The lowly hosts were proving problematic for Diego Simeone's men but surrendered the initiative when Braian Rodríguez picked up his second yellow on 55 minutes. Gabi inflicted further damage three minutes later with the opener from range, and Diego Costa slid in a second on 64 minutes to secure the points.
Elsewhere, Sevilla FC moved fifth with a 2-1 win at CA Osasuna, while Valencia CF were 2-1 victors at home to Villarreal CF.
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|Last updated: 04/04/2014 11:23 CET|
Fuego 35, 44
Dos Santos 83
Zé Castro 7 (og)
Camacho 24, 32
|1||Club Atlético de Madrid||29||70|
|2||Real Madrid CF||29||70|
|6||Real Sociedad de Fútbol||28||46|
|12||RC Celta de Vigo||29||33|
|14||Rayo Vallecano de Madrid||29||30|
|18||Real Valladolid CF||29||27|
|20||Real Betis Balompié||29||19|