BARCELONA — Lionel Messi scored his 643rd goal for Barcelona on Saturday to equal Pele’s record of goals for a single club as the Spanish giants were held 2-2 by Valencia.
Messi (33) headed in from Jordi Alba’s cross after his first-half penalty was saved to equal the mark set by the Brazilian great for Santos.
“These figures are impressive, we will never have a player so effective at this club,” admitted coach Ronald Koeman.
“That Is why he is No 1. What he’s done for this club, it is impressive.”
But Messi was eventually left frustrated on Saturday as a dogged Valencia forced a draw to leave Barcelona eight points behind leaders Atletico Madrid, who beat Elche 3-1 earlier in the day.
“There were times tonight with good football, we had total control of the match, especially after leading 2-1 where we tried to get the third, but there were also times when we lost the ball in the danger zones,” added Koeman.
“What worries me is that sometimes the team doesn’t know what the game is about.
“We know we’re a team that always likes to attack and score goals, but there are also times when you have to defend and control the game.
“But the race for the title is not yet lost, we are far behind, but it’s a very complicated season for everyone. In two months, the situation may be totally different.”
Barcelona started slowly and went a goal behind to Mouctar Diakhaby’s unchallenged header from a corner after half an hour.
Antoine Griezmann earned the penalty that led to Messi’s record-equalling goal when the France attacker was nudged over by Jose Gaya.
Messi’s spot-kick was saved by Jaume Domenech, but the ball rebounded and from Alba’s dinked cross, the Argentina forward headed the ball into the net to draw level with Pele.