Argentine Leo Messi had a hat trick in leading Barcelona to a 4-3 win over Real Madrid at Santiago Bernabeu Stadium, putting his team back in title contention in the Spanish League.
"This team responds on the big occasions," Messi said.
Messi, who evened the score at 2-2 just before the half on Sunday, nailed penalty kicks in minutes 65 and 84 after Portuguese international and Real Madrid star Cristiano Ronaldo connected on a penalty kick at minute 55 to make it 3-2 for his side.
"We knew this was the last opportunity to get into the fight for La Liga and we had to fight until the end, and it was a really beautiful match for the people and for us, who walked away with the victory," Messi said in comments posted on FC Barcelona's Web site.
Messi is now the all-time leading scorer in Clasicos with 21 goals.
"The important thing is that we won. From an individual standpoint, things are working out, but you have to put the team first, which wanted to win and get in there. Now, we want to stay focused in the remaining matches, which are few, and we can't make mistakes," Messi said.
Barcelona's Andres Iniesta started the scoring seven minutes into the match, but France's Karim Benzema scored at minutes 20 and 24.
The 83,000 fans who packed into Real Madrid's Santiago Bernabeu Stadium observed a minute of silence to honor former Spanish Prime Minister Adolfo Suarez, who died on Sunday. EFE