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Barcelona 2-2 Atletico Madrid: Catalans title hopes dented despite Messi’s 700th goal

Lionel Messi scored the 700th goal of his career but Barcelona were held to a 2-2 draw against Atletico Madrid by a pair of Saul Niguez penalties, damaging their LaLiga title defence.

Barca’s all-time leading scorer Messi brought up the milestone at Camp Nou with a brilliant Panenka from the penalty spot as he punished Felipe for sending Nelson Semedo to ground early in the second half.

However, Saul, who first equalised in the opening period after Diego Costa’s own goal, powered home from 12 yards for the second time after Semedo caught Yannick Carrasco in the box.

The result provided a boost to Real Madrid, who can open up a four-point advantage at the summit by beating Getafe on Thursday.

Messi appeared to have ended his wait for his landmark goal in the 11th minute, but his corner only beat Jan Oblak due to a deflection off the inside of Costa’s leg.

Marc-Andre ter Stegen saved a penalty from Costa after Arturo Vidal tripped Carrasco, only for a VAR review to spot the goalkeeper had strayed off his line. A re-take was ordered and Saul guided the ball into the bottom-right corner.

Messi curled a magnificent attempt from the right corner of the box narrowly wide, before steering a cutback from Jordi Alba outside the left upright and seeing a deflected free-kick turned behind by Oblak before half-time.

Barca regained the lead five minutes after the restart when Messi cheekily chipped home his 700th goal from the penalty spot.

Costa missed the target with a header but Carrasco won another penalty and Saul’s spot-kick found the net off the gloves of Ter Stegen.

Vidal was unable to find the target with a pair of decent opportunities as Barca were forced to settle for a draw that will do little to quell the rumours of discontent in the dressing room.

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