Messi scores 643rd Barcelona goal to equal Pele record

Lionel Messi equalled Pele’s record of 643 goals for a single club after scoring for Barcelona in a 2-2 draw with Valencia on Saturday.

The Argentina forward netted a milestone goal with a diving header just before half-time – moments after missing a penalty – to cancel out Mouctar Diakhaby’s 29th-minute opener.

Barcelona then went ahead through Ronald Araujo but Maxi Gomez earned Valencia a point.

Messi went close with several late efforts but Ronald Koeman’s side failed to find a winner and his star player had to settle for matching rather than surpassing Pele’s Santos mark for now.

Barcelona's Lionel Messi joins Pele in having scored more goals for one club than any other player in history
Lionel Messi scores for Barcelona against Elche
Messi scores for Barcelona against Valencia

Barcelona are languishing fifth in the top-flight table but could yet be overhauled by sixth-placed Sevilla who have two games in hand on the Catalan giants.

Diakhaby capitalised on awful Barcelona defending to head in a corner that put Valencia into an early lead.

The hosts could not force their way back into the contest during a frustrating first half, only to be handed a golden chance to level with a penalty.

Messi missing the penalty was the last thing on anyone’s mind, especially with Pele’s record in his sights.

Messi levels with Pele in numbers

  • 73 – Messi’s 2011/12 season, when he scored 73 times in 60 games for Barca in all competitions, remains his best ever haul in one campaign.
  • 50 – He has passed 50 on five other occasions, with four more seasons in the 40s and at least 31 in every completed season since 2008/09.
  • 450 – The goal against Valencia took Messi to another landmark – 450 goals in La Liga
  • 16 – Messi has scored Champions League goals in 16 seasons, matching Ryan Giggs’ record, and unlike the former Manchester United man, he has done so in consecutive years dating back to 2005/06.
  • 37 – Sevilla are Messi’s favourite opponent, with 37 goals against them while he has 32 against Atletico Madrid.
  • 48 – Messi has scored 48 hat-tricks for Barca, including 36 in La Liga, with another six for Argentina taking him through the half-century mark for his career as a whole.

But although the Argentina stalwart fluffed his lines he was still able to ride out that blow, quickly converting Jordi Alba’s deflected cross as the ball stayed alive after his missed spot-kick.

Barcelona thought they were on course for victory when Araujo’s acrobatics seized a 2-1 advantage with little more than half an hour to play.

But then up popped Gomez to seal the draw, heaping yet more misery on Barcelona and Koeman – and taking the shine off Messi’s latest landmark day.

Suarez at the double for Atletico

Luis Suarez scored twice against Elche to send Atletico Madrid clear at the top of La Liga
Luis Suarez scored twice against Elche to send Atletico Madrid clear at the top of La Liga

Elsewhere, former Barcelona forward Luis Suarez was back among the goals to help Atletico Madrid beat Elche 3-1.

The victory moved Atleti to 29 points from 12 games, three clear of second-placed Real Sociedad and Real Madrid.

Uruguay striker Suarez, who recently had a spell on the sidelines after contracting coronavirus, gave Atletico the lead in the 41st minute as he got the slightest touch on a low cross from Kieran Trippier to score for the first time since early November.

Suarez then slid in to knock home another from a delightful low pass by Yannick Carrasco in the 58th minute for his ninth goal of the season, taking him joint top of the scoring charts alongside Celta Vigo’s Iago Aspas and Real Sociedad’s Mikel Oyarzabal.

Elche got back into the game with a header from Lucas Boye in the 64th minute following a well-worked corner routine, becoming the first side to score against Atletico at the Wanda Metropolitano since the first game of the season.

Boye nearly found an equaliser when he swivelled to shoot inside the box but Atletico ‘keeper Jan Oblak got across to tip the ball around the near post.

The hosts soon sealed the points, though, when substitute Diego Costa went to ground to earn a debatable penalty and then lashed home from the spot in the 80th minute.

Elche’s 40-year-old striker Nino then came off the bench to try and help his side get something from the game and almost scored but saw his header cleared off the line.

Real Sociedad were beaten for the second game in succession by Levante, falling 2-1 to Jorge de Frutos’ late winner.

Jorge De Frutos' late winner gave Levante maximum points against Real Sociedad
Jorge De Frutos’ late winner gave Levante maximum points against Real Sociedad

Alexander Isak put the San Sebastian side ahead midway through the first half but Roger Marti levelled shortly before the half-hour mark.

De Frutos’ late winner then lifted Levante up to 14th and out of the relegation zone courtesy of a second win from three games.

Villarreal cemented fourth place with a comfortable 3-1 win at bottom side Osasuna, who ended with 10 men.

Gerard Moreno fired the visitors ahead after seven minutes, before Fernando Nino doubled the lead on the half-hour – by which point Aridane Umpierrez had already been sent off for Osasuna.

Roberto Torres reduced the arrears from the penalty spot with 20 minutes to go but, as they pressed for an equaliser, Moreno struck again with four minutes to go.

Bundesliga: Bayern go top with win

Robert Lewandowski’s last-minute winner lifted Bayern Munich top of the Bundesliga with a 2-1 win at previous leaders Bayer Leverkusen.

Patrick Schick put the hosts ahead inside a quarter of an hour with a superb volley from a corner, but two errors from defender Jonathan Tah cost his side.

First he jumped into his goalkeeper Lukas Hradecky to give Lewandowski a tap-in moments before the break, and his heavy touch in the 94th minute then allowed the striker to fire in a last-minute winner.

Robert Lewandowski moved onto 17 Bundesliga goals in 12 games
Robert Lewandowski moved onto 17 Bundesliga goals in 12 games

RB Leipzig dropped off the pace with a surprise home stalemate against Cologne, despite registering 19 shots.

The hosts enjoyed 64 per cent of possession and gave up only one shot on target, but could not find a way through a defence which had conceded 21 goals in their previous 12 games this season.

Werder Bremen struck in the final minute through Eren Dinkci’s goal to give them a 1-0 win at Mainz and lift them up to 12th.

Schalke’s woes continued with a 1-0 home defeat to third-bottom Arminia Bielefeld leaving the hosts six points off their visitors.

Fabian Klos’ goal seven minutes after half-time was enough to give Arminia their third win of the season, and leave Schalke still looking for their first victory after 13 attempts.

Eintracht Frankfurt won 2-0 at Augsburg thanks to Raphael Framberger’s own goal and a late Stefan Ilsanker second.


Chelsea get Atletico, Liverpool face RB Leipzig in CL last 16

Chelsea will face Atletico Madrid in the Champions League last 16, while Liverpool play last season’s semi-finalists RB Leipzig.

Chelsea face a tough tie against Diego Simeone’s side, who are second in La Liga, level on points with Real Sociedad with two games in hand.

Frank Lampard’s side will travel to the Spanish capital for the first leg on February 23, with the return match taking place at Stamford Bridge on March 17.

Both games come ahead of high-profile Premier League matches for Chelsea, with Manchester United due to come to west London four days after the away match with Atletico, with a trip to Anfield to take on Liverpool the next fixture after the second leg of their European tie.

Speaking about the challenge posed by Atletico, Lampard said: “I think most people will say it’s the toughest draw that we could have had.

Luis Suarez scored a late second in Atletico Madrid's win


Chelsea head coach Frank Lampard says his team need to beat clubs like Atletico Madrid to stand any chance of winning the Champions League

“When you go on current form, how they’ve been in La Liga, European experience, quality of team and player, I think most people would say that.

“On the other hand, all draws are difficult in the Champions League. We have to have belief in ourselves and, when that game comes around, you’re going to have to beat these sort of teams if you’re going to win the Champions League so it is what it is.”

Diego Simeone celebrates at Anfield
Diego Simeone’s Atletico Madrid knocked Liverpool out in the round of 16 last season

Manchester City will play German side Borussia Monchengladbach, who are in the knockout stages for the first time in their history.

Pep Guardiola’s side will play the first leg in western Germany on February 24 before welcoming Borussia to the Etihad Stadium on March 16.

Former Bayern Munich head coach Guardiola said: “I learned when I was in Germany how big and important and historical a team Gladbach are. I respect the beauty of their football.

Pep Guardiola


Pep Guardiola says he will begin to prepare for Manchester City’s Champions League last-16 opponents Borussia Monchengladbach now

“They went through the group with Shakhtar (Donetsk) and were able to go through and played an exceptional game against Shakhtar after Shakhtar beat Real Madrid twice.

“All I can say is I want to arrive in the best condition when we play them. We want to compete as best as possible and go through.”

Liverpool, who were knocked out by Atletico at this stage last season, will also head to Germany for their Round of 16 first leg game against RB Leipzig on February 16 ahead of the Merseyside derby with Everton that weekend, with the return match with Leipzig at Anfield scheduled for March 10.

Julian Nagelsmann’s team reached the knockout stages by beating Manchester United 3-2 in the final game in Group H.

The three English sides all avoided five-time winners Barcelona, who will play French champions Paris Saint-Germain, with Neymar facing off against his former club.

Angelino celebrates scoring for RB Leipzig against Manchester United
RB Leipzig beat Manchester United 3-2 to qualify from Group H

The ties will take place over two legs, with seeded group winners playing away in the first legs and at home in the return matches.

Last 16 ties in full:

Borussia Monchengladbach vs Manchester City

Lazio vs Bayern Munich

Atletico Madrid vs Chelsea

RB Leipzig vs Liverpool

Porto vs Juventus

Barcelona vs Paris Saint-Germain

Sevilla vs Borussia Dortmund

Atalanta vs Real Madrid

Neymar sent off among four others late on in Le Classique
Neymar is set to face his former team-mates at Barcelona

When will the games be played?

First legs

February 16: RB Leipzig vs Liverpool
February 16: Barcelona vs PSG
February 17: Porto vs Juventus
February 17: Sevilla vs Borussia Dortmund
February 23: Lazio vs Bayern Munich
February 23: Atletico Madrid vs Chelsea
February 24: Monchengladbach vs Man City
February 24: Atalanta vs Real Madrid

Second legs

March 9: Juventus vs Porto
March 9: Borussia Dortmund vs Sevilla
March 10: Liverpool vs RB Leipzig
March 10: PSG vs Barcelona
March 16: Man City vs Monchengladbach
March 16: Real Madrid vs Atalanta
March 17: Bayern Munich vs Lazio
March 17: Chelsea vs Atletico Madrid

The Champions League trophy ahead of tonight's final between Bayern Munich and Paris SG.
The 2021 Champions League final will take place in Istanbul on May 29

What are the other key dates?

April 6/14, 2021: Quarter-finals

April 17 & May 5, 2021: Semi-finals

May 29, 2021: Final (Istanbul)

Atletico Madrid vs Chelsea – The key stats

This will be the seventh meeting between these two sides in the Champions League, with Chelsea losing just once, 1-3 at home in the 2014 semi-final (W2 D3).

Chelsea have won just one of their last seven Champions League meetings with Spanish opposition (D4 L2), although that win did come last time out (4-0 away to Sevilla in this season’s group stages).

Frank Lampard scored and assisted in Chelsea’s only home victory against Atletico Madrid in the Champions League (4-0 in October 2009).

Liverpool and RB Leipzig – The key stats

Liverpool and RB Leipzig will meet for the very first time in a competitive match in European competition.

Liverpool are unbeaten in their last 10 matches against German teams in all European competition (W7 D3), since a 2-4 loss to Bayer 04 Leverkusen in April 2002.

Liverpool will be the third different English team RB Leipzig have faced in the Champions League, previously meeting Tottenham in 2019-20 (W2) and Manchester United in 2020-21 (W1 L1).

Man City and Borussia Monchengladbach – The key stats

This will be the seventh European meeting between Man City and Borussia Monchengladbach, the Citizens unbeaten in the last four (W3 D1), all coming in the Champions League.

Manchester City have won eight of their last nine Champions League games against Germany opposition (D1), with four of those matches coming against Borussia Monchengladbach (W3 D1).

Both of Sergio Aguero’s Champions League hat-tricks have come against German opponents, Bayern Munich in November 2014 and Borussia Monchengladbach in September 2016.


Bayern rule out sale of Man Utd target Coman

Bayern Munich have ruled out selling Manchester United target Kingsley Coman in the January transfer window.

Sky Sports News reported in the summer that the France winger was on a shortlist for a potential loan move to Old Trafford.

The 24-year-old was among a number of alternatives United were looking at instead of top target Jadon Sancho, who remained at Borussia Dortmund.

But Bayern chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge has said Coman is “not for sale” after his impressive form for the defending Bundesliga champions this season, according to Sky Germany.

He also scored the only goal of last season’s Champions League final as Bayern beat his former club Paris Saint-Germain.

Coman joined Bayern from Juventus in a permanent move in July 2017 after a successful loan spell prior to that.

Kieran Trippier has made 48 appearances for Atletico Madrid since arriving at the La Liga club
Kieran Trippier has emerged as a potential transfer target for Man Utd

United are also keen to strengthen at right-back, and Sky Sports reported last week they are keeping tabs on Atletico Madrid’s Kieran Trippier.

They also want to sign a centre-back but need to move out the likes of Phil Jones and Marcos Rojo, whose contracts expire next summer, before they can do so.


Arsenal, Leipzig wait for Szoboszlai decision

Arsenal are bracing themselves for Red Bull Salzburg attacker Dominik Szoboszlai to make a decision on his future.

The Gunners are interested in signing the attacking midfielder in January but face stiff competition from Salzburg’s sister club in Germany; RB Leipzig.

The Bundesliga side can offer him Champions League football for the rest of the season, but he is also said to be aware of Bayern Munich and Real Madrid being keen on a deal next summer.

The 20-year-old therefore has to make up his mind whether to go in January or see out the rest of the season where he is, and he is said to have a deadline of next Tuesday, December 15.

The Hungary number 10 has a release clause in his Salzburg contract – reportedly of almost £23m – but discussions are said to be needed to finalise payment structures and agent fees.

Mikel Arteta
Mikel Arteta wants to strengthen his team further in January after a difficult start to the season

Who is Dominik Szoboszlai?

Szoboszlai is considered one of Europe’s most promising talents, having scored twice in six Champions League games this season, and four in 10 in the Austrian Bundesliga, while setting up a further six.

The youngster has scored 25 goals and produced 33 assists in 80 appearances since breaking through from Salzburg’s academy in 2018.

Szoboszlai plays predominantly as a number 10 – the position Mikel Arteta is keen to bring in, having recently relied on a traditional number nine in Alexandre Lacazette to play there, as the Gunners have struggled in the Premier League.

Atletico, Atalanta reach CL knockout stages

Atletico Madrid are through to the last 16 of the Champions League after a 2-0 win at Red Bull Salzburg on a busy night in Europe.

Goals from Mario Hermoso and Yannick Carrasco saw the Spanish side finish second in Group A behind holders Bayern Munich, who rounded off their group campaign with a 2-0 home success against Lokomotiv Moscow.

Second-half goals from Niklas Sule and former Stoke striker Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting extended Bayern’s unbeaten run in the competition to 17 matches.

Liverpool sealed top spot in Group D with a 1-1 draw against Midtjylland as Mohamed Salah eclipsed Steven Gerrard as the club’s top scorer in the Champions League.

The Egypt international struck after just 55 seconds but Alexander Scholz’s VAR-awarded 62nd-minute penalty denied Jurgen Klopp’s side victory.

Luis Muriel scored the only goal as Atalanta defeated Ajax in Amsterdam
Luis Muriel scored the only goal as Atalanta defeated Ajax in Amsterdam

Atalanta finished second in the group after Luis Muriel’s late strike gave the Serie A side a 1-0 win at Ajax, who had Ryan Gravenberch sent off shortly before the goal.

Second-half goals from Ferran Torres, Sergio Aguero and Raheem Sterling saw Group C winners Manchester City round off with a 2-0 home victory against Marseille.

Porto follow Pep Guardiola’s team through after their 2-0 win at Olympiakos – Monteiro Otavio and Mateus Uribe scored the goals for the Portuguese. The hosts had Ruben Semedo sent off late on.

Meanwhile, Paris Saint-Germain and Istanbul Basaksehir sent a powerful anti-racism message before their rescheduled Champions League match at Parc des Princes as their players all took a knee.

PSG and Basaksehir players took the knee before kick-off
PSG and Basaksehir players took the knee before kick-off at the Parc des Princes

PSG, assured of qualification on Tuesday night after Manchester United’s defeat by RB Leipzig in Germany, reached the knockout stages with a comprehensive 5-1 victory.

Neymar scored a hat-trick and Kylian Mbappe netted twice, with Mehmet Topal getting a consolation for the Turkish champions.

Two first-half goals from Karim Benzema helped Real Madrid to a 2-0 victory against Borussia Monchengladbach as the 13-time winners of the competition finished top of Group B.

Monchengladbach qualify as runners up after Inter Milan and Shakhtar Donetsk contested a goalless draw at the San Siro.