Messi Equals Pele Record But Barça Stumble Again

Lionel Messi matched Brazil legend Pele’s record of 643 goals for a single club after scoring for Barcelona against Valencia in LaLiga on Saturday.

The Argentine, 33, drew the home side level with a diving header just before half-time immediately after his penalty was saved by Valencia keeper Jaume Domenech.

Messi’s first goal for Barca came fifteen years ago in 2005 against Albacete.

Pele, 80, scored 643 goals in 19 seasons for Brazilian side Santos between 1956 and 1974.

Despite Messi’s record-equalling feat, however, Barça dropped points against a Valencia side that has been out of sorts for much of the season.

The Catalans have endured an indifferent start to the season under new manager Ronald Koeman, who was facing his former side with whom he won the Copa Del Rey in 2008.

Barça seemed to have turned the corner after picking up back-to-back home wins against Levante and Real Sociedad but familiar frailties in defence surfaced again on Saturday as Valencia took lead through Mouctar Diakhaby just before the half hour mark.

Barça were awarded a spot kick after Jose Gaya was penalised for a shove on Antoine Griezmann but a red card issued to the Valencia captain was downgraded to yellow after the referee consulted the pitch-side monitor.

Domenech saved superbly from Messi’s effort but the Argentine atoned for his miss when he connected to Jordi Alba’s cross moments later to level and match Pele.

Ronald Araujo made it 2-1 with his first goal for Barça seven minutes after the break but Maximilliano Gomez hit back for the visitors who held on for a share of the spoils at the Nou Camp.

Barca face an uphill task challenging for the title as they stay fifth on 21 points, four off the Champions League places and eight points behind leaders Atletico Madrid.

Valencia, meanwhile, climb up to 12th with 15 points.