Messi, Ronaldo trade blows in 2-2 Clasico draw
Real Madrid came away with a point but failed to secure the victory they needed to trim the gap on leaders Barcelona when the outstanding Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo each struck twice in an attritional 2-2 draw in La Liga on Sunday.
A stuttering start by Jose Mourinho's side had left them eight points behind their great rivals after six matches, threatening to derail their title defence before it had even got off the ground.
While they will take comfort from preventing Barca making it seven wins out of seven this term, they may feel they let slip an opportunity in the opening league 'Clasico' of the campaign after Ronaldo gave them a 23rd-minute lead in front of almost 100,000 fans packed into an electric Nou Camp arena.
With millions more around the world watching the heavyweight clash, Messi levelled eight minutes later after a defensive lapse by Pepe and the Argentine World Player of the Year curled in a stunning free kick just after the hour to make it 2-1.
Real were level within five minutes when Mesut Ozil slid the ball through to Ronaldo and the Portuguese forward beat Victor Valdes for a second time with a powerful low strike.
Barca came close to a winner in a frenetic ending when substitute Martin Montoya crashed a long-range effort against the crossbar in the 89th minute and Pedro dashed on to an Andres Iniesta pass in stoppage time only to fire wastefully wide.
We were superior at times but it was a very even game, Barca midfielder Sergio Busquets said in an interview with Spanish television.
Everything is the way it was but with one match less, added the Spain international.
Undefeated Barca have 19 points from seven games, three ahead of Atletico Madrid, who host third-placed Malaga in Sunday's late kickoff.