Lionel Messi scored his 700th career goal by club and country, but Atletico Madrid returned to draw 2-2 and further dented the hopes of the Barcelona title.
In a gripping match, Diego Costa inadvertently redirected a corner of Messi in his own net (11) before Saul Niguez scored from the point (18) after Costa originally saved his efforts from Marc-Andre Ter Stegen but was ordered to to be shot while the goalkeeper was out of line.
Messi’s moment came in the second period when he scored his historic goal with a Panenka penalty (50) over Jan Oblak, which means he has now scored 630 club goals to go with 70 for Argentina.
However, Atletico won the third penalty of the match a few minutes later, when Yannick Carrasco was stumbled by Nelson Semedo and Saul just beaten Ter Stegen by 12 yards.
Barcelona’s third draw in four games leaves them in second place, one point behind Real, who had the chance to open a four-point lead against Getafe on Thursday with five more games remaining.
As Barca slipped again …
After a start from start to finish, Barcelona opened the scoring in the 11th minute, when Costa mistakenly judged a fierce corner of Messi at the near post and deflected him past Oblak.
Costa’s night worsened shortly after when his penalty – won by Carrasco, who committed a foul by Arturo Vidal – was blocked by Ter Stegen. However, confusion reigned when the referee asked for him to be resumed with replay which eventually showed that the goalkeeper was slightly out of his line when he denied Costa’s weak kick.
Saul stepped up instead of Costa and converted to level the scores.
Messi cut the post with a curling effort before the break, as it seemed that his wait for goal number 700 would go on, but would eventually take center stage.
He restored the hosts’ lead in the 56th minute by scoring a Panenka-style penalty coldly after Semedo was cut by Felipe.
Perhaps the celebrations surrounding Messi’s strike caught the eye of the ball in Barcelona while Atletico responded quickly. The speed of the attacker Carrasco caused even more problems for the hosts when he was cut by Semedo while loading into the box.
Ter Stegen guessed the right way for Saul’s penalty but it wasn’t enough to keep him out.
Elsewhere in La Liga, Seville increased their chances of qualifying for the Champions League by beating fights Leganes 3-0 away from home to tighten their grip in fourth place in La Liga and send their opponents crashing closer to relegation.
Midfielder Oliver Torres scored twice before half-time to give Julen Lopetegui side control while forward Munir El Haddadi completed the scoring late to crown Sevilla’s first win in five games, having drawn the last four games .
The victory brought Sevilla to fourth place on 57 points after 33 games, five ahead of Getafe in fifth place, even though the Madrid team has one game in hand.
Leganes, meanwhile, is approaching relegation for the first time since reaching the top flight in 2016 as they are nine points from escaping the relegation zone with only 15 points left to fight for.
Tuesday Real Mallorca gave life to their hopes of survival at La Liga by beating Celta Vigo 5-1 in a relegation fight, earning victory for the first time since the season returned after the coronavirus stopped.