Lionel Messi reaches 700-goal milestone for Barcelona and Argentina

BARCELONA, Spain — Lionel Messi scored his 700th profession aim for membership and nation earlier than Atletico Madrid got here again to attract 2-2 within the Spanish league on Tuesday and deal Barcelona’s title hopes a serious blow.

Barcelona’s third attract 4 rounds left it in second place, one level behind chief Actual Madrid. Madrid hosts Getafe on Thursday with an opportunity to open up a four-point lead with 5 extra matches remaining.

Barcelona was two factors forward of Madrid when the league was halted in March due to the coronavirus outbreak.

Whereas Madrid has gained 5 of 5 for the reason that resumption after a three-month stoppage, Barcelona has solely gained three of six. The stress is growing on coach Quique Setién, who took over the staff in mid-season with the duty of rekindling its attacking spirit.

“It’s too dangerous as a result of we hold dropping factors and getting additional and additional away from the title,” Setién mentioned. “However we now have to maintain preventing.”

Barcelona struck first within the 11th minute when Atlético striker Diego Costa inadvertently redirected a nook by Messi into his personal web.

Costa’s evening obtained worse shortly after when his penalty was blocked by Marc-Andre ter Stegen. Atlético, nonetheless, obtained to retake the spot kick when a video evaluation decided that the Barcelona goalkeeper had moved off his line too early.

Saúl Ñíguez stepped up as a substitute of Costa on the second try and transformed to stage the rating within the 19th.

Messi restored the host’s lead in 56th by coolly scoring a penalty within the “Panenka” model, chipping it softly previous goalie Jan Oblak. The aim was Messi’s 630th membership aim to go along with 70 for his Argentina. It was additionally his league-leading 22nd aim of the season.

Atlético responded once more by way of the velocity of ahead Yannick Carrasco, who was tripped by Nelson Semedo and despatched Saúl again to the spot. Ter Stegen obtained a hand on his penalty however not sufficient to maintain it out.

Diego Simeone’s Atlético remained undefeated within the six matches for the reason that competitors resumed. It stayed in third place, 12 factors behind Madrid.

Simeone left ahead João Félix on the bench till the second half in favor of the in-form midfielder Marcos Llorente, who is flourishing in help of the assault.

Llorente led the assault early on, however Carrasco along with his velocity on the left flank proved to be the guests’ greatest weapon. Twice the Belgian ahead burst into the field on a counterattack and was taken down by late tackles from Arturo Vidal and Semedo.

“Carrasco got here again from the stoppage in higher form, and is now again to taking part in at his greatest stage,” Simeone mentioned about his ahead, who’s in his second stint with the membership.

Setién opted for leaving Messi and Luis Suárez alone up entrance and including an additional midfielder in teenager Riqui Puig, maintaining forwards Antoine Griezmann and Ansu Fati on the bench. Puig had considered one of his greatest performances for Barcelona, exhibiting his passing and ball management abilities as he linked up effectively with Messi and his different teammates.

Barcelona just isn’t blowing out rivals prefer it used to, however its principal downside is its failure to guard leads. It additionally went forward twice at Celta Vigo on Saturday solely to concede twice to attract 2-2.

“All of the video games which are left are tremendous vital and all factors we drop damage our possibilities,” the 20-year-old Puig mentioned after his second straight begin. “The opposite day the identical factor occurred, they have been in a position to struggle again in video games we have been profitable due to our foolish mistake or lapses in focus.”

Messi helped put Barcelona forward when he struck a nook low and onerous on the close to publish, the place Costa tried to clear it however as a substitute let it hit the within of his leg. The ball bounced off the turf and left Oblak no likelihood.

Earlier than his penalty, Messi nearly curled in a shot from the correct aspect that got here inches from bending into the far nook of the aim.

Barcelona’s greatest likelihood to get the winner got here from Vidal, who fired a shot simply by the publish with 20 minutes to go.

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