MADRID, March 23 (Xinhua) -- FC Barcelona defeated Real Madrid 4-3 in an incredible game of football in the Santiago Bernabeu Stadium on Sunday night to throw the race for the league title in Spain wide open.
Leo Messi scored a hat-trick, with two of his goals coming from the penalty spot in a night when referee Undiano Mallenco was one of the main protagonists.
Undiano awarded Real Madrid one penalty and two to Barca as well as sending Real Madrid defender Sergio Ramos off, but TV replays showed that the referee, considered one of the best in Spain had probably got two of his calls (one for each side) badly wrong.
The game got off to an explosive start as Barca made it clear they had come to the Bernabeu in order to take the game to Real Madrid and they took the lead after 6 minutes when Messi passed the ball to Andres Iniesta who beat Diego Lopez with a left foot shot.
Messi had the chance to double Barca's lead after 15 minutes but dragged his shot from the edge of the area wide with just Lopez to beat.
That proved to be expensive as two goals from Karim Benzema turned the tables in just four minutes.
The Frenchman scored a header after 20 minutes and then controlled before volleying past Victor Valdes as the Barca defense failed to deal with consecutive crosses from an in-form Angel Di Maria.
Barca had cut through Madrid at will until the two goals, but needed time to react from the double blow, which had once again laid bare their defensive failings, but Madrid's defense had also struggled in the game and Messi made them pay two minutes before halftime as he collected a loose ball in the Madrid penalty area to finish off a move he had started.
The second half began with Madrid playing slightly deeper in order to deny Barca in attack and Carlo Ancelotti's side looked to play more on the break.
Undiano gave Madrid a penalty 10 minutes into the second half when Ronaldo went down under a slight touch from Dani Alves, although replays showed the contact was well outside of the area. Ronaldo made no mistake from the penalty spot to put Madrid ahead.
Ten minutes later the referee awarded his second penalty of the night when Neymar fell in the Real Madrid box. Not only did the referee point to the spot, but he also sent off Ramos for denying a clear goalscoring opportunity.
Once again the TV replays were unkind to Undiano as they imply Neymar took a dive to fool the referee. This time Messi made no mistake to draw the scores level.
With an extra man Barca looked for the win and Dani Alves saw a shot rebound off the post as Madrid were forced deeper.
The third penalty came when Iniesta was sandwiched between Dani Carvajal and Xabi Alonso and this time Undiano called it right and Messi sent the ball into the top right hand corner of the Madrid net.
The win takes Barca to within point of Real Madrid, but there were another winners this Sunday, thanks to Barca's triumph in the Bernabeu, as Atletico Madrid climbed on top of the league table after a victory away to Betis.