Messi sets new Liga landmark as Barca down Atletico in top of table clash

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The Argentine now sits ahead of Real Madrid legend Iker Casillas as the most successful player ever to feature in the Spanish top flight

Lionel Messi has surpassed Iker Casillas as the Liga star with most wins in the competition as he helped Barcelona take a huge step towards the title on Saturday. 

The Catalans were made to sweat for the three points by Atletico Madrid, despite the visitors losing Diego Costa early in Camp Nou due to a red card for dissent

It was not until the 84th minutes that Barca made the breakthrough, having seen Jan Oblak frustrate the likes of Messi and Luis Suarez with a string of brilliant saves. 

Suarez converted with a stunning strike from the edge of the area that flew into the net beyond the goalkeeper's grasp to break the deadlock against the 10-man Colchoneros. 

Messi then stepped up just two minutes later with an outrageous no-look finish that left Oblak rooted to the spot, assuring a hard-fought 2-0 victory for the league leaders. 

It also marked a moment of individual distinction for the Argentina, as he sent another long-standing Liga record tumbling. 

Messi has now racked up 335 wins in the Spanish top flight, a number higher than any other player in the history of the division. 

The previous holder of the milestone was Iker Casillas, who had managed 334 during his long, distinguished spell between the posts for Real Madrid

Leo, moreover, needed just 447 games to reach the new record compared to Casillas' 510 outings - meaning a total win rate of just under 75 per cent when on the pitch for Barca.

The Argentine now boasts 33 goals in the current Liga campaign, 13 more than nearest rival Suarez. 

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His strike partner also caught the headlines for the most unusual of occurrences: a goal hit from outside the area. 

Both his last two strikes have come from distance, a phenomenon that had never previously taken place since the Uruguayan moved to Spain from Liverpool

Barca meanwhile were grateful to the South American pair as they opened up a 11-point lead over Atletico at the Liga summit, an advantage that looks almost insurmountable with just seven games remaining of the season.