Two Lionel Messi late goals at the Santiago Bernabeu in a heated Champions League semifinal first leg between Barcelona and Real Madrid to gave the Catalans a vital away goal before the second leg next week.

In what panned out as more of a riot than a football spectacle, both teams had players sent off while Real coach Jose Mourinho was banished to the stands.

The first half ended goalless, but a melee between the players after half time, just outside the tunnel had Barca's substitute goalkeeper Josep Pinto seeing red for his role in the clash.

After the restart, Pepe went into a challenge against Dani Alves with his studs up and though replays suggested he didn't intend malice, he was given a straight red card. In his protests, Mourinho, who sarcastically winked at the fourth official and seemed to say well done, well done, was banished from the technical area and into the stands.

The game was at risk of being remembered for tackles and play acting. However, at the late stages, there was some football to savour, thanks in prime to Messi.

Ibrahim Afellay, who came on for the injured Pedro, used his pace to skip past Marcelo down the right before delivering a cross at the near post for Messi to touch in from close range. It was the crucial away goal they had wanted.

It wasn't over though. There was still time for some Messi magic. If his first goal had been a poacher's goal, the second was a conjurer's. As only he can do, Messi raced at the Madrid rearguard in typical fashion, skipping past Arbeloa and Albiol and into the box, where he calmly slotted it past Casillas. Madrid were left flabbergasted.

Real have given themselves a lot to do in the second leg if they are to get to the final, and it remains to be seen what Mourinho will do. At the moment though, Barca are definitely the favourites to go all the way to Wembley.