The match between Barcelona and Real Madrid is known as the "clasico," and Sunday's edition lived up to that title, as Lionel Messi upstaged Cristiano Ronaldo on Real Madrid turf to reassert Barça's title credentials on Sunday.
Messi scored a hat trick, including two goals on penalty kicks, as Barça won 4-3 in a back-and-forth, entertaining and at times controversial encounter at Santiago Bernabeu Stadium, where the hosts finished with 10 men.
Having been written off too early in its title defense, Barça is now just a point behind the leaders, Madrid rivals Atlético and Real.
The match began with Andrés Iniesta powering Barcelona in front after seven minutes, followed by Karim Benzema scoring twice to put Real Madrid in control.
Although Messi slotted in an equalizer before halftime, Ronaldo re-established Madrid's lead with a 55th-minute penalty. But Messi eclipsed the man who deposed him as world player of the year in January by scoring twice on penalties, including the equalizer after Real defender Sergio Ramos was sent off.
Messi's second straight hat trick put him second on La Liga's all-time scoring list with 235 goals, passing Hugo Sánchez.
Based on reporting by the Associated Press.