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Ten-man Madrid fight back to deny Barcelona

Cristiano Ronaldo's second-half penalty helped ten-man Real Madrid CF earn a hard-fought point against FC Barcelona after Lionel Messi had opened the scoring from the spot.

Madrid and Barcelona shared the points in the Spanish capital
Madrid and Barcelona shared the points in the Spanish capital ©Getty Images

The first of four tussles between Spanish giants Real Madrid CF and FC Barcelona ended all square as the ten-man hosts came from behind to earn a share of the spoils at the Santiago Bernabéu.

Barcelona had been on course for victory after Raúl Albiol brought down David Villa in the box and Lionel Messi converted from the spot, but Cristiano Ronaldo's 82nd-minute penalty meant Josep Guardiola's side were unable to extend their eight-point lead at the top of the table.

The opening Clásico instalment started in a cagey manner with both sides feeling their way into the contest before Barcelona's plentiful possession began to take its toll. Andrés Iniesta, so often at the heart of Barça's slick attacking play, lofted a delightful pass over Madrid's square defence for Messi, but the Argentinian forward failed to lift the ball beyond the onrushing Iker Casillas. Moments later, the Madrid No1 was on hand again to deny the Liga's leading marksman at his near post.

The hosts almost took an undeserved lead in first-half stoppage time, but Adriano cleared Ronaldo's header off the line with Víctor Valdés beaten. José Mourinho's men started the second half on the front foot as well, only to find themselves a goal and a man down shortly after a Ronaldo free-kick had come back off a post. Albiol wrestled Villa to the ground inside the area and Messi converted from the spot for his 30th goal of the campaign. The visitors then threatened to extend their lead, Xavi Hernández clipping the crossbar after good play from Pedro Rodríguez.

Despite their numerical disadvantage, Madrid equalised eight minutes from time through Ronaldo's penalty, after Marcelo had been upended by Daniel Alves. The Merengues almost clinched an unlikely victory when Emmanuel Adebayor squared for Sami Khedira, but Valdés kept out the Germany midfielder and ultimately kept the home side at arm's length in the title race.

Elsewhere, Valencia CF consolidated their position in third with a convincing 3-0 victory away against UD Almería, who are now four points adrift at the bottom. A Júlio Baptista double helped Málaga CF beat RCD Mallorca 3-0 and lift Manuel Pellegrini's side up to 17th, while Miku's 76th-minute strike for Getafe CF dented Sevilla FC's hopes of a top-four finish.



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