A typically ill-tempered Clasico saw Barca reduced to ten men in first half stoppage time with the sending off of Sergi Roberto.
Luis Suarez volleyed unbeaten Barca into the lead after 10 minutes following a gut-busting run and cross from Roberto while Cristiano Ronaldo levelled for Champions League finalists Real five minutes later from close range.
Gareth Bale has had a up-and-down career in Madrid since moving from Spurs four years ago, mainly due to injuries rather than form. Most of the pre-match talk was centered around the same, with the Barcelona faithful and even Jordi Alba demanding a guard of honor.
The pair have been long-time rivals, and while Ronaldo wins the battle in terms of goals, Messi trumps the real Madrid star in terms of club trophies won, as well as possessing a better goals-per-game ratio.
Just before half-time Roberto appeared to lash out at Marcelo, and referee Alejandro Hernandez showed no hesitation in the presenting a straight red to the Spaniard.More news: Area high schools recognized in US News and World Report rankings
According to reports in Spain Lionel Messi darted towards the referee and hurled criticism at the official, quipping 'You s***, you s***, and you s***, it's good to give them things'.
However, the Portugal forward's ankle was trodden on by Gerard Pique in the process and he was substituted at halftime.
Following a squabble, Ramos and Suarez were both booked, which incidentally started after the defender fouled the Catalan striker. Marcelo fell down and the referee didn't hesitate in flashing the red card.
Messi looked poised to get another goal but Bale made it 2-2 by using one touch to curl Asensio's pass around Ter Stegen.
Atletico Madrid lost 2-0 to Espanyol for its first home defeat of the league season.