Updated: Monday, 24 March 2014 17:53 | By Agence France-Presse

Spain hails 'historic' Barca-Real duel

Barcelona's thrilling 4-3 away victory over Real Madrid was one of the greatest 'clasico' clashes in history, Spain's press said Monday, declaring the La Liga title race now wide open.

Spain hails 'historic' Barca-Real duel

Lionel Messi (right) celebrates after scoring against Real Madrid at the Santiago Bernabeu stadium in Madrid on March 23, 2014 - by Dani Pozo

Barcelona's Lionel Messi, helped by Andres Iniesta, conquered the Bernabeu, papers said, after the Argentinian scored a hat trick that made him the most prolific scorer in the history of 'clasico' matches between the arch rivals.

"Barcelona emerged the victors in all aspects of a frenetic night of football and goals, one of the best duels that the eternal rivalry between the two giants of the Liga has produced," wrote leading sports daily Marca.

Real Madrid did everything they could to win but Barcelona had the answer, the paper said.

"Driven by the sensational Iniesta and held by the genius of Messi, Barca overcame every adversity," Marca said.

Real Madrid's defeat left them trailing Spanish league leaders Atletico Madrid on goal difference, with Barcelona just one point behind them.

"The League Begins," Marca's front page headlined.

Rival sports daily AS's front page ran with the headline: "Football Storm."

"Three penalties, seven goals, one expulsion and much emotion," the paper said. 

Barcelona-based papers celebrated.

"Messi destroys Madrid," said the front page of Sport.

"Leo, outstanding with three goals, and Iniesta signed another historic victory in the Bernabeu," the paper said.

"It was an orchestra against a band," said Sport's football commentator Josep Maria Casanovas. 

"It was like a coup d'etat. Those who believed they were favourites were defeated," he added. "The Bernabeu had to surrender to the great Barcelona game."

The paper labelled Madrid's Cristiano Ronaldo a "cry baby" after he criticised referee Alberto Undiano Mallenco's performance and said "many people didn't want us to win today".

Mallenco awarded three penalties on the night with Ronaldo scoring the first one for Madrid to put them 3-2 up 10 minutes after half-time.

However, Sergio Ramos was then sent-off for denying a clear goalscoring opportunity for a foul on Neymar inside the area. Then Xabi Alonso was adjudged to have tripped Andres Iniesta seven minutes from time.

"Delirious!" blared the front page of Barcelona-based Mundo Deportivo, summing up the mood in the Catalan capital.


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