Lionel Messi picked the perfect time to score his 500th goal in competitive action for Barcelona with an injury-time strike to decide a dramatic El Clasico victory over Real Madrid.
The Argentina star had already scored once in Sunday's much-anticipated LaLiga match, equalizing the match at 1-1 in the first half after Casemiro's opener. Messi then netted his landmark goal deep into stoppage time to secure a 3-2 win that sent Barcelona to the top of the table.
The 29-year-old has reached the remarkable figure in only 577 appearances for the club, which he joined at the age of 13 back in 2001.
500 - Lionel Messi has scored his 500th goal for Barcelona in all competitions. Stellar. pic.twitter.com/Jx3kUl1CQ9
— OptaJose (@OptaJose) April 23, 2017
Messi scored his first senior Barca goal against Albacete at Camp Nou on May 1, 2005, when he lobbed goalkeeper Raul Valbuena from just inside the area following a sublime chipped pass from Ronaldinho.
"I made the assist. That was the moment the legend started," the Brazil great recalled this week, as quoted by AS.
Messi has scored 343 goals in LaLiga, 94 in the Champions League, 43 in the Copa del Rey, 12 in the Supercopa de Espana, five in the Club World Cup and three in the UEFA Super Cup. He is six behind longtime rival Cristiano Ronaldo in Europe's top competition, after the Real Madrid star reached a century of Champions League goals thanks to a hat-trick in Tuesday's 4-2 win over Bayern Munich.