All season long goalkeeper Keylor Navas has helped bail out Real Madrid while much of his team failed to step up. On Saturday, in Real Madrid’s all-important game in Barcelona against the team’s hated La Liga rival, Navas’ teammates finally raised their level of play after the Costa Rican goalie put it all on the line for them.
In Madrid’s 2-1 win over league-leader Barcelona, Navas made a highlight reel dive to save a goal from forward Lionel Messi to make the difference in Real Madrid’s surprising upset. Against arguably the world’s best player in the biggest game of the season, it was the kid from Pérez Zeledón who again helped save the day.
Still, Barcelona would score two minutes after the spectacular stop when Madrid defender Pepe lost Gerard Pique on a free kick, allowing Barça to take a 1-0 lead in the second half.
Real responded with a goal from Karim Benzema. It then seemed to get the game-winner off a beautiful goal from Gareth Bale, but it was discounted by a questionable foul call.
With the game still knotted 1-1, things turned dire for Real Madrid as star defender Sergio Ramos was sent off with his second yellow card of the game, leaving Real Madrid one man down against one of the world’s most fearsome attacks.
Yet Navas and the resurgent Madrid defense held strong and allowed superstar striker Cristiano Ronaldo to score the game-clincher in the waning minutes. Los Merengues’ defense totally surpassed the level it has been playing at all season by closing in on Barcelona’s all-star forwards and suffocating their passing lanes.
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With the win, Real Madrid is still technically alive for a La Liga title, although it would take a monumental collapse from Barcelona to relinquish its seven-point lead over the Spanish rival.
Navas and Madrid will next play on April 6 in the quarterfinals of the Champions League against Germany’s Wolfsburg, where the Costa Rican star will have the chance to inch closer to the tournament record for the longest streak without conceding a goal.