It didn’t take long for Lionel Messi to make up for lost time.
Shortly after heading to the sideline when he was elbowed in the face inadvertently, the Argentinian found a break in Real Madrid’s stout defense and seized the opportunity.
Gripping a piece of towel between his teeth to halt the blood from streaming down his face again, Messi had a brilliant piece of offense to find the back of the net and even the score in the 33rd minute of play.
Messi held the ball at the top of the box before passing it and sprinting forward. A quick touch pass found Messi just 15-feet away from the goal, and he made Real Madrid pay for it. Messi grabbed the ball and quickly juked to the left to find an open field. He sent a hard, left-footed shot past the goalkeeper to put Barcelona into a 1-1 tie with Real Madrid about halfway through the first half of play.
Watch a video of Messi’s goal below:
Messi’s first-half goal set an all-time El Clasico record, giving him 15 in his career. It was also his 30th league goal of the season, the sixth time he’s scored 30-or-more goals in a La Liga season.
Barcelona and Real Madrid battled it out the rest of the first half and walked into the dressing rooms at halftime with the score still even at 1-1.
Messi found the goal once more in the game in stoppage time to seal the match and push Barcelona past Real Madrid and put them atop the La Liga standings.