In a match marred by bickering, diving, and lack of cohesion, the first leg of the Champions League at Santiago Bernabeu ended with Barcelona defeating Real Madrid, 2-0.
Playing a man down due to a questionable red card to Real Madrid defensive star Pepe, Real Madrid conceded a goal to Lionel Messi in the 76th minute, after a fine cross from Ibrahim Afellay.
Messi, who hadn't scored a non-penalty goal in three previous matches against Real Madrid, delivered a streaking boot on the ball as Afellay fed a right-footed low pass from near the end line.
In the 81st minute, Messi followed up the goal with a brilliant run where he slalomed through defenders and slipped the ball by Iker Casillas. It was a classic play by Messi, but the fact that Real Madrid was playing with only 10 players made the moment lack the right luster.
Barcelona dominated time of possession at 77 percent, and with an under-manned Real Madrid side, that was to be expected.
It was demoralizing loss for Real Madrid on their home field because of the red card, and the inability to have decent chances to score in the first half.
The match was so ugly that after the Pepe ejection, even Real Madrid manager Jose Mourinho was sent to sit in the stands.
Jose Manuel Pinto, Barcelona's backup goalkeeper, was even given a red card for a scuffle at halftime near the tunnel. There was a total of five yellow cards, but there probably should have been more for hounding the referee.
With Manchester United defeating Schalke 2-0 on the road on Tuesday, a Barcelona-Manchester United Final at Wembley Stadium appears likely.