If Bayern Munich is to have any chance of a sixth straight semifinal appearance in the Champions League it will have to do something that only one team has achieved this season - defeat Real Madrid at the Santiago Bernabeu Stadium.
Real Madrid are now six points above Barcelona, having played the same number of games.
Sporting retook the lead five minutes into the second half as Vesga looped a measured header into the far corner.
Real Madrid playmaker Isco insists he wants to stay at "the best club in the world" for a long time, despite being courted by Barcelona and a host of English Premier League clubs.
"He's fine, very up for it and few players are going to manage to score 100 goals in European competitions".
Paco Alcacer, deputising for the suspended Neymar, briefly restored Barca's two-goal lead with a composed finish from Messi's pass.
Fabio Coentrao and Danilo were handed rare starts in the fullback positions, while forwards Cristiano Ronaldo and Karim Benzema were rested, with Wales worldwide Gareth Bale out injured.
But Alvaro Morata headed Madrid level again in the 59th, and the pacesetters kept pushing until Isco netted the victor.
The Spain playmaker has struggled for regular game time under Zinedine Zidane this season and has been frequently linked with a stunning move to Madrid's fierce rivals Barcelona - rumours exacerbated by a Catalan-themed packet of crisps that made its way into the 24-year-old's social media feeds recently. With the team we have, we can do damage to any side - our DNA at Real Madrid is to fight to the end and we have done that.
Sporting Gijon stunned Real Madrid's goalkeeper with a second goal from Mikel Vesga in the 50th minute.
Madrid endured a nervous game too, which was eventually settled by Isco at the death.
Fresh off of making history yet again, Cristiano Ronaldo and Real Madrid look to continue their success when they face Sporting de Gijon on April 15. "You know what I think of Isco, he is a player I like a lot and his place is here".
- Alvaro Morata has scored 12 goals this La Liga season, three more than Benzema. The Englishman immediately promised that he would give his players a "kick up the arse" to propel them up and out of the drop zone, but it did not work.
The Poland worldwide missed the first leg of the Champions League quarter-final tie due to a shoulder injury but is expected to return to the starting XI in Spain. "I want to thank Real Madrid for the opportunity to build a wonderful at this club, and to my teammates as well".