Lionel Messi netted his 700th career goal but the magnificent landmark was overshadowed by a quite possibly fatal blow to Barcelona’s title aspirations as Atletico Madrid battled back to earn a draw at the Nou Camp on Tuesday.
The point keeps Barca second in La Liga one point behind Real Madrid, who have a game in hand.
Messi, 33, had been stuck on 699 goals and was undergoing a mini-drought having not scored in three matches going into the encounter.
But he entered the exclusive 700-goal club with a cooly taken “Panenka” penalty in the second half to put the Blaugrana 2-1 up.
Barca had taken the lead when Diego Costa inadvertently put the ball past Jan Oblak from a corner kick in the 11th-minute.
Atletico were offered a way back minutes later when the referee pointed to the spot after Arturo Vidal fouled Yannick Carrasco.
Costa stepped up but his effort was saved by Marc-Andre ter Stergen, VAR, however, spared the striker’s blushes as ter Stergen was adjudged to have stepped off his line before the ball was struck with the referee ordering the spot-kick to be retaken.
The goalkeeper earned a caution and was beaten by Saul Niguez from the spot as both sides went into the interval on level terms.
Messi restored Barcelona’s lead and reached his career milestone with his cheeky Panenka – named after Antonin Panenka’s famous penalty for Czechoslovakia in the final of Euro 76.
But Niguez equalised again with another penalty as Barca dropped points for the third time in six matches after the restart.
Real Madrid will extend their advantage to four points if they beat Getafe at home on Thursday.