After edging to within one goal of former Real Madrid CF forward Alfredo Di Stéfano's haul of 18 Clásico strikes with a double in FC Barcelona's 2-2 draw against the Merengues on Sunday, Lionel Messi said it would "represent a real honour" to match his fellow Argentinian's long-standing mark.
Messi's seventh Liga goal this term helped to cancel out Cristiano Ronaldo's 23rd-minute opener at Camp Nou in what was the 222nd meeting between the teams. The 25-year-old's sublime free-kick then gave Tito Vilanova's side the advantage after the break before Ronaldo equalised with his eighth strike of the league campaign to date.
"It was a great match. We would like to have won it but you must remember who we were playing against; Madrid are a top team," Messi said after the encounter which left Barcelona eight points ahead of their fifth-placed rivals in the standings. "I had the good fortune to score one of my goals from [a set piece tonight] which was great as we always enjoy practising those type of things in training."
The three-time FIFA Ballon d'Or winner was appearing in his 22nd game against Madrid and took his tally against the Liga champions to 17, leaving him within touching distance of Di Stéfano’s Clásico total achieved between 1953 and 1964. "
It would represent a real honour to equal Alfredo Di Stéfano's tally as he was a player who signified so much in the game," he said. "For now I just want to continue doing well."
Madrid defender Pepe, meanwhile, was full of praise for another impressive display from team-mate Ronaldo who has now scored in his last five visits to Camp Nou. "He was incredible during the entire match, he worked so well," the Portuguese international said. "For me and for our fans, Ronaldo is the best player in the world. He's the complete footballer."
Pepe also refused to write off his team's chances of pegging Barcelona back in Liga, saying: "There are still a lot of points to play for. We drew at a difficult ground and we could have even won tonight. We must now look to perform as well in our other games as we did here."
©UEFA.com 1998-2014. All rights reserved.