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Messi racks up 600th career goal as Barcelona edge past Atletico Madrid

Lionel Messi reached his 600 goal landmark in 747 games for club and country. Reuters/Sergio Perez

Lionel Messi scored the 600th goal of his career as Barcelona beat Atletico Madrid 1-0 to go eight points clear at the top of La Liga on Sunday.

Atletico went into the match at the Camp Nou in second place on the back of eight straight wins. On Wednesday, Antoine Griezmann scored all the goals in the 4-0 destruction of Leganes. A day later Barcelona were held to a 1-1 draw at Las Palmas.

But the duel at the summit was settled when Messi steered a free-kick past Atletico goalkeeper Jan Oblak in the Atletico net after 26 minutes.

That was his 539th strike for Barcelona. The other 61 goals have come playing for Argentina.

In the prelude to the clash, Barcelona boss Ernesto Valverde had tried to play down the significance of the match. But with 11 games remaining, Barca have underlined their credentials their status as favourites for the title.

However the victory came at a price. Midfield schemer Andres Iniesta limped off the field with a suspected hamstring strain. Initial reports from the Catalans suggest he will be doubtful for the Uefa Champions League last 16 second leg clash against Chelsea next week.

Barcelona will entertain the Londoners after a 1-1 draw at Stamford Bridge on 20 February.