Ronaldo, Messi; Messi, Ronaldo. First Messi responded to Ronaldo, then Ronaldo responded to Messi. You cannot keep these two down.
If Real Madrid versus Barcelona is the greatest sporting rivalry on earth, it has come to be personified in two of the finest footballers there have been, men who define their clubs and this battle.
On a night that was billed as the match that would decide not just the league title but the Ballon d'Or, the deciding votes were put on hold for now.
There will be more from these teams and from these two men. Between them Messi and Ronaldo have now scored exactly 100 club goals in 2012; between them they got all four goals here.
"I don't know if Ronaldo has done enough (to win the Ballon d'Or)," said José Mourinho.
"All I know is that talking about who is the best player in the world should be banned because these two are so good."
The result maintains Barcelona's eight-point lead at the top of the table, although Messi and Ronaldo, with eight goals apiece, are level in goals plundered this season.
They appear to break records in every match. Ronaldo broke another one here, his 22nd-minute opener being the sixth successive clásico in which he had scored, the first to do so.
Xabi Alonso sprayed the ball to the right touchline, another long pass opening the pitch out, where Angel Di María and Mesut Ozil combined. The ball was worked across the face of the area, Sami Khedira found Karim Benzema and he held off his marker, turning to roll into the path of Ronaldo. His shot went in hard and low at the near post.
Messi scored the equaliser eight minutes later. Pedro's ball from the right ricocheted into the air. Pepe leapt but, under pressure and falling forward, was unable to make good contact with the header and the ball dropped on the edge of the six-yard box for Messi to nudge it past Iker Casillas. Now both had got goals.
This time it was Messi's turn to lay down the challenge. A stunning free-kick from over 25 yards crashed past Casillas to make it 2-1.
When Ronaldo, soon after, tried to score an overhead kick he missed it and the crowd laughed but not for long. A lovely ball from Ozil found him dashing in and he finished cleanly.
CR7 back for country
Madrid: Cristiano Ronaldo will join up with the Portugal World Cup squad despite suffering a suspected sprained left shoulder during Real Madrid's draw with Barcelona at the weekend, the Spanish club said on Monday.