Lionel Messi equalled world football history when he scored his 643rd goal for Barcelona in a draw with Valencia on Saturday.
The result couples with an Atletico Madrid win, however, to put Barca eight points back of the leaders having played one fewer match than Diego Simeone’s Atleti.
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Real Sociedad also lost to slip behind Atleti, having played three more matches. Real Madrid has played 13 times to Atleti’s 12 but can join their city rivals on 29 points with a win at Eibar on Sunday.
Barcelona 2-2 Valencia
Messi’s goal matched the record set by Pele before the Brazilian left Santos for the New York Cosmos in 1974.
Messi’s marker came in unfitting fashion given the occasion, as the Argentine missed his penalty but was point-blank to head home a cross moments later.
The goal came in first-half stoppage to tie the match at 1 and Ronald Araujo scored just after the break to give Barcelona a lead.
Yet Maximilian Gomez scored with just over 20 minutes left to give Valencia a share of the points.
Messi took 10 shots in the game and added three key passes over his 90 minutes.
Pele saluted Messi for their shared dedication to their club, though that will no doubt sting a bit for Barcelona supporters as the Argentine’s career with them seems likely to end in 2021.
Here’s Pele, from Instagram:
“When your heart overflows with love, it is difficult to change your path. Like you, I know what it’s like to love wearing the same shirt every day. Like you, I know that there is nothing better than the place we feel at home. Congratulations on your historic record, Lionel. But above all, congratulations on your beautiful career at Barcelona. Stories like ours, of loving the same club for so long, unfortunately ar increasingly rare in football. I admire you very much, @leomessi.”
The Argentine gets his goal from the rebound after having his penalty saved to equalize for Barca.
— beIN SPORTS USA (@beINSPORTSUSA) December 19, 2020
Athletic Bilbao 2-0 Huesca
Atletico Madrid 3-1 Elche
Levante 2-1 Real Sociedad
Osasuna 1-3 Villarreal
Sevilla 1-1 Real Valladolid
Celta Vigo v Alaves — 8 am ET Sunday
Granada v Real Betis — 10:15 am ET Sunday
Cadiz v Getafe — 12:30 pm ET Sunday
Eibar v Real Madrid — 3 pm ET Sunday