Lionel Messi equalled Pele’s record of 643 goals for a single club after scoring for Barcelona in a 2-2 draw with Valencia on Saturday.
The Argentina forward netted a milestone goal with a diving header just before half-time – moments after missing a penalty – to cancel out Mouctar Diakhaby’s 29th-minute opener.
Barcelona then went ahead through Ronald Araujo but Maxi Gomez earned Valencia a point.
Messi went close with several late efforts but Ronald Koeman’s side failed to find a winner and his star player had to settle for matching rather than surpassing Pele’s Santos mark for now.
Barcelona are languishing fifth in the top-flight table but could yet be overhauled by sixth-placed Sevilla who have two games in hand on the Catalan giants.
Diakhaby capitalised on awful Barcelona defending to head in a corner that put Valencia into an early lead.
The hosts could not force their way back into the contest during a frustrating first half, only to be handed a golden chance to level with a penalty.
Messi missing the penalty was the last thing on anyone’s mind, especially with Pele’s record in his sights.
Messi levels with Pele in numbers
- 73 – Messi’s 2011/12 season, when he scored 73 times in 60 games for Barca in all competitions, remains his best ever haul in one campaign.
- 50 – He has passed 50 on five other occasions, with four more seasons in the 40s and at least 31 in every completed season since 2008/09.
- 450 – The goal against Valencia took Messi to another landmark – 450 goals in La Liga
- 16 – Messi has scored Champions League goals in 16 seasons, matching Ryan Giggs’ record, and unlike the former Manchester United man, he has done so in consecutive years dating back to 2005/06.
- 37 – Sevilla are Messi’s favourite opponent, with 37 goals against them while he has 32 against Atletico Madrid.
- 48 – Messi has scored 48 hat-tricks for Barca, including 36 in La Liga, with another six for Argentina taking him through the half-century mark for his career as a whole.
But although the Argentina stalwart fluffed his lines he was still able to ride out that blow, quickly converting Jordi Alba’s deflected cross as the ball stayed alive after his missed spot-kick.
Barcelona thought they were on course for victory when Araujo’s acrobatics seized a 2-1 advantage with little more than half an hour to play.
But then up popped Gomez to seal the draw, heaping yet more misery on Barcelona and Koeman – and taking the shine off Messi’s latest landmark day.
Suarez at the double for Atletico
Elsewhere, former Barcelona forward Luis Suarez was back among the goals to help Atletico Madrid beat Elche 3-1.
The victory moved Atleti to 29 points from 12 games, three clear of second-placed Real Sociedad who have played 14 and are in action at Levante later on Saturday.
Uruguay striker Suarez, who recently had a spell on the sidelines after contracting coronavirus, gave Atletico the lead in the 41st minute as he got the slightest touch on a low cross from Kieran Trippier to score for the first time since early November.
Suarez then slid in to knock home another from a delightful low pass by Yannick Carrasco in the 58th minute for his ninth goal of the season, taking him joint top of the scoring charts alongside Celta Vigo’s Iago Aspas and Real Sociedad’s Mikel Oyarzabal.
Elche got back into the game with a header from Lucas Boye in the 64th minute following a well-worked corner routine, becoming the first side to score against Atletico at the Wanda Metropolitano since the first game of the season.
Boye nearly found an equaliser when he swivelled to shoot inside the box but Atletico ‘keeper Jan Oblak got across to tip the ball around the near post.
The hosts soon sealed the points, though, when substitute Diego Costa went to ground to earn a debatable penalty and then lashed home from the spot in the 80th minute.
Elche’s 40-year-old striker Nino then came off the bench to try and help his side get something from the game and almost scored but saw his header cleared off the line.