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Messi equals Pele, Barca held by Valencia

Lionel Messi has reached yet another personal scoring milestone in Barcelona’s 2-2 draw with Valencia in La Liga.

Messi’s 643rd career goal for Barcelona since his 2004 debut matched the legendary Pele’s tally for Santos accumulated from 1957-74.

It was not enough to earn Barca a much-needed victory, though, as they drew 2-2 with Valencia to stay fifth in the table after 13 games.

They are eight points adrift of leaders Atletico Madrid, for whom Luis Suarez scored twice on the way to a 3-1 win over Elche.

Alongside the veteran core of Messi, Sergio Busquets, Jordi Alba, Gerard Pique and goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen, Barcelona coach Ronald Koeman gave starts to Araujo and Oscar Mingueza, both 21, and entrusted playmaking duties to 18-year-old Pedri Gonzalez.

“The age of some players can explain why there is a certain inconsistency because consistency comes from playing together for a long time,” Koeman said.

“We lacked control and lost too many balls in defence sometimes. I saw my team have doubts.”

Suarez’s goals were his first since he returned to action following his coronavirus infection.

His double ensured Atletico bounced back quickly after losing to Real Madrid 2-0, their first defeat in the competition since February.

The Uruguay striker’s seven goals make him La Liga’s joint top scorer alongside Sociedad’s Mikel Oyarzabal and Celta Vigo striker Iago Aspas.

He put the hosts ahead in the 41st minute with a subtle touch to roll a long pass by Kieran Trippier past on-rushing goalkeeper Edgar Badia.

Suarez added the second in the 58th minute when he slid to sweep home a low ball from Yannick Carrasco.

Lucas Boye got one back for Elche with a header in the 64th and drew a one-handed save from Jan Oblak minutes later.

But substitute Diego Costa put the result beyond doubt when he earned and converted a penalty with 10 minutes remaining. It was Costa’s first appearance after missing seven games with injury.

Real Sociedad missed the chance to move level with Atletico at the top, a late strike from Jorge de Frutos condemning them to a 2-1 defeat at Levante.

Villarreal remain in fourth courtesy of a 3-1 win away at basement dwellers Osasuna.

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