Lionel Messi matched Pele’s record of one-club goals, but it was not enough for Barcelona as they were kept in the thrilling LaLiga clash on Saturday to a 2-2 draw by Valencia.
On the verge of half-time, the superstar forward notched his 643rd goal for the Catalan giants, scoring in the aftermath of Jaume Domenech having a penalty saved.
Mouctar Diakhaby’s deserving opener for Valencia was canceled by that landmark goal, and Ronald Araujo then put the hosts in front with an acrobatic shot – his first Barcelona goal at senior level.
Still, as Maxi Gomez prodded in 21 minutes from time to inflict another title blow on Ronald Koeman’s team, Barca could not hang on for a third straight league victory – and a fifth in a row at Camp Nou.
Koeman called an assault-minded line-up that featured just one midfielder holding and Barca was routinely caught out at the back, Marc-Andre ter Stegen bailing his side out to deny Carlos Soler with a good save.
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Prior to this clash, Valencia were winless in four league games and were brought to extra time by lower-league Terrassa in the Copa del Rey in midweek, but in the 29th minute from a Soler corner, they opened the scoring in Catalonia through Diakhaby’s free header.
At the end of a swift counter, Antoine Griezmann could not beat Domenech and Martin Braithwaite had a powerful penalty appeal turned down, while Ter Stegen created a superb stop in an end-to-end contest to keep Gomez out.
When Jose Gaya was adjudged to have nudged Griezmann in the back, Barca was given a route back into the game, the option permitted to stand after a long VAR search, while on second viewing Gaya’s red card was reduced to a yellow.
Domenech moved Messi’s spot-kick to one side, only for Jordi Alba to deliver a deflected cross to the back post for the Argentine international to nod for his landmark goal over the line from two yards.
But the visitors replied through Gomez, who got to poke in Gaya’s left-sided cross in front of Oscar Mingueza, and kept on for a share of the spoils-the off-target curler of Philippe Coutinho, the nearest Barca, went on to win the game late.