71 not out

Lionel Messi equalled Raúl's Champions League scoring record tonight

The Real Madrid legend must be sickened.

LIONEL MESSI LEVELLED the record for goals scored in the Champions League after scoring twice for Barcelona against Ajax tonight.

The instinctive finishes were the Argentine’s 70th and 71st goals in the Champions League, meaning he now shares the record with Real Madrid icon Raúl.

Here’s the first goal of the night in Amsterdam.

And this is the one that Raúl was dreading.

However, it was another frustrating evening for Luis Suarez on his return to the side where he made his name in Europe as he passed up a huge chance to score his first Barca goal early in the second-half.

Barcelona still trail Paris Saint-Germain by a point at the top of Group F after the French champions also sealed their place in the knockout phase with a 1-0 win at home to APOEL Nicosia.

Messi took advantage of a rare off night in front of goal by Cristiano Ronaldo against Liverpool on Tuesday to leapfrog the Portuguese, who now lies one behind the Argentine on 70 Champions League goals.

Netherlands Soccer Champions League AP / Press Association Images AP / Press Association Images / Press Association Images

However, Barca had it far from all their own way in the Dutch capital as after Neymar had an early goal rightly ruled out for the visitors, it was Ajax who enjoyed the better of the opening 45 minutes.

Lucas Andersen fired just wide from the edge of the area before Marc-Andre ter Stegen made a fine low save to deny Davy Klaassen rounding of a sumptuous move with a volleyed finish.

It took Barca over half an hour to wake from their slumber, but their star-studded front three began to create problems when Suarez’s driven effort was deflected behind for a corner.

Messi then teed up Jordi Alba with a lovely through ball, but Ajax ‘keeper Jasper Cillessen scurried from his line to block the Spanish international full-back’s effort.

The opening goal arrived nine minutes before half-time and was harsh on Cillessen who originally made a great save high to his right to keep out a Messi free-kick. However, Barca kept the ball alive and from Marc Bartra’s cross Messi somehow outjumped his marker to nod the ball home despite Ricardo van Rhijn’s desperate attempts to clear off the line.

Barca had more control of the game after the break and should have wrapped up the three points when Messi released Suarez clean through on goal, but Cillessen stood up to block his unconvincing finish and Messi’s curled the rebound into the side-netting.

Luis Enrique’s men were given a scare 23 minutes from time when substitute Arkadiusz Milik’s header came back off the post.

But any hopes of a revival from the hosts disappeared when central defender Joel Veltman received a second yellow card for chopping down Messi.

Just four minutes later the four-time World Player of the Year made the game safe as he exchanged passes with Pedro before sliding in to register his 11th goal of the season.

And Messi will be eyeing another significant record in a matter of days as he continues his quest to become the all-time top scorer in La Liga when Barca travel to Almeria on Saturday.

- © AFP, 2014

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