MADRID: Leo Messi reached another milestone as he scored his 700th career goal in Spanish champions Barcelona’s 2-2 draw with Atletico Madrid in LaLiga.
Barca’s all-time leading scorer took his tally for the club to 630 from 724 games with a Panenka-style penalty to put his side 2-1 up, and with 70 international goals also to his name from his 138 caps for Argentina, he now becomes the seventh player in history to reach 700 overall.
However the goal was not enough to earn the victory Barcelona needed to leapfrog Real Madrid to the top of the table. A second penalty of the match from Saul Niguez earned the third-placed visitors a point at the Nou Camp.
Messi had earlier claimed his 321st career assist when Diego Costa turned in his curling corner kick at the near post only for Niguez’s first spot kick – which was a retaken after Costa missed the initial effort – level the scores.
Cristiano Ronaldo became the sixth player to reach 700 goals back in October when scoring for Portugal but while the Juventus star achieved the landmark in his 974th game – and almost exactly 17 years after his first goal for Sporting Lisbon in 2002-03.
Messi managed it in his 862nd match and 15 years after his maiden goal, which came in his ninth senior appearance against Albacete in May of the 2004-05 season, aged 17.
Thus Messi boasts a career strike rate of 0.81 per game – and 0.87 at club level – whereas Ronaldo’s was 0.72 when he brought up 700 in his 974th match and is still the same having since moved to 728 goals in 1005 matches (629 in 841 at club level, with a ratio of 0.75).
While Messi was seeking his 700th goal on Tuesday night, Ronaldo scored his 728th during a 3-1 victory that put Juventus four points clear of Lazio in Serie A.
The Argentina star has lifted 26 major club trophies throughout his career, including 10 La Liga titles and four Champions League crowns, while the Portugal captain has 22 club titles, including a record five Champions Leagues, three Premier Leagues, a pair of LaLigas and is on the verge of a second Serie A.