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La Liga: Messi passes Pele in Barca win, assist for Dest; Atleti tightens grip


, SPAIN - DECEMBER 22: Lionel Messi of FC Barcelona celebrates 0-3 with Pedri of FC Barcelona, Jordi Alba of FC Barcelona, Sergino Dest of FC Barcelona, Oscar Mingueza of FC Barcelona, Pjanic of FC Barcelona, Frenkie de Jong of FC Barcelona during the La Liga Santander match between Real Valladolid v FC Barcelona on December 22, 2020 (Photo by David S. Bustamante/Soccrates/Getty Images)

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Lionel Messi’s masterclass got Barcelona back in the win column and crafted another world record.

The individual stuff is nice but Diego Simeone will be smiling even bigger as Atletico Madrid won a showdown with Real Sociedad to move alone atop the table.

[ LIVE: La Liga stats, standings, scoreboard ]

Atleti has collected 32 points, three more than Real Madrid in one fewer game. Real Sociedad sits third with 26 points but has played thrice more than Atleti.

Barca is eight points back of the top and has played once more than the leaders and the same as Real Madrid.

Real Valladolid 0-3 Barcelona

Lionel Messi’s shared record with Pele for most goals with one club lasted all of three days and helped Barcelona polish off its first away league win since Oct. 1.

Messi scored the third goal of the game, his 644th with Barcelona, to pass Pele’s 643 goals scored with Santos.

Messi assisted Clement Lenglet’s opening goal before USMNT back Sergino Dest assisted Martin Braithwaite to make it 2-0 before half.

The answer to the trivia question of who assisted Messi’s record-breaking goal is Pedri. Messi cut an incisive pass to Frenkie de Jong, who found Pedri for a drag-back through ball for the Argentine to slot home.

Look at this outside-of-the-boot pass from Messi to send Dest into the box for his assist to Braithwaite. Messi finished with 11 shots -- seven on target -- with four key passes amongst his 112 touches. He’s good.

Real Sociedad 0-2 Atletico Madrid

There were only 14 total shots and four shots on target at Anoeta Stadium, but Atleti put two of their three home to keep hold of La Liga.

Yannick Carrasco set up a Mario Hermoso goal before halftime and a Marcos Llorente number in the 74th.

Valencia 0-1 Sevilla

Joan Jordan set up Suso for a late winner, sending Julen Lopetegui’s sixth-place men within three points of their fourth-place hosts.


Elche 2-2 Osasuna
Huesca 1-1 Levante
Villarreal 1-1 Athletic Bilbao

Follow @NicholasMendola