Lionel Messi has said Barcelona’s big-game mindset proved crucial in the Classico victory over Real Madrid on Sunday.

Messi scored a hat-trick, including two penalties, as Barca won 4-3 to move a point behind Madrid. Lionel Messi, having scored 21 goals, is now the highest-ever goalscorer in the history of the ‘Clásico’ games, one goal ahead of Alfredo Di Stéfano. And 12 of those goals have been scored at the Santiago Bernabéu, after counting the three he put past Diego López.

Messi has played in 27 ‘Clásicos’, and with his 21 goals, he is now ahead of Di Stéfano (18), Raul (15), and Gento, Puskas and César (14). Behind them, on 12, is Cristiano Ronaldo.

Madrid are second in the table behind Atletico Madrid on the head-to-head record with Barca in third.

Karim Benzema was the star for the home side, but Messi ultimately stole the show. The Argentine bagged a hat-trick – two from the spot – to bring his side back into the title race. He really does enjoy a shoot-out with the Merengues.

Speaking to reporters after the match Messi downplayed suggestions he won the game individually, insisting it was a team effort.

“On a personal level things are going very well for me but I have to point out that the whole team had an extraordinary game,” Messi said.

“This team always rises to the big occasions. We like playing in these types of games,” the Argentina international continued.

“We have to keep going. The League is very tough and we haven’t got many games left. We can’t afford to fail.

“It’s an important win. We’re back in the race again and we have to keep going. We can’t make any more mistakes.”

The title race could come to a climax on the final day of the season when Barca host Atletico at Camp Nou, a match Messi agreed could be decisive.

“Atletico are a very tough rival and they have had a fabulous season. We’ll be trying for a good result at home against them,” he added.”

Clásico clash between these two eternal rivals was overshadowed by controversy as Barcelona walked out of Real Madrid’s Estadio Santiago Bernabéu with a 4-3 win on Sunday night.

A Lionel Messi hat-trick, two via penalty, plus an Andrés Iniesta score outweighed a Karim Benzema brace and a Cristiano Ronaldo penalty as Barcelona drew within one point of new league leaders Atlético Madrid who were also beneficiaries of the Catalonians’ victory.

Leo Messi is in great form this year and his figures in 2014 speak for themselves. He has scored 18 times (11 in the league; five in the Cup and two in the Champions League. And with 19 goals scored this season he is nearing the top of the ‘pichichi’ (leading goalscorers) table, six behind Cristiano Ronaldo.