Lionel Messi again made history but his goal was not enough to earn Barcelona a win over relegation-threatened Celta Vigo as the teams shared a 2-2 draw.

The Argentina international is no stranger to treading new ground and his 73rd-minute goal tonight meant he has scored in 19 successive Primera Division matches.

In doing so he has found the net against every other side in the Spanish top flight - the first player to ever do that in consecutive matches - and he has 29 goals from his last 19.

Tonight`s would not be the winner, though, with Borja Oubina`s late header earning Celta a point, with Naxto Insa`s opener having been earlier scrubbed out by Cristian Tello`s goal.

It was a good day for Barca, however, with Messi`s latest record being set and Eric Abidal on the bench for the first time since a liver transplant over a year ago.

The France defender did not make it on to the field but his return is a significant one, as is that of coach Tito Vilanova who was not at the game but is back in the country after undergoing chemotherapy in America.

Second-placed Real Madrid missed the chance to make things slightly less comfortable for Barcelona as they were too were held by a team fighting the drop, fourth-bottom Real Zaragoza.

Madrid could have trimmed their arch rivals' lead to 11 points if they could beat Zaragoza and claim a seventh successive league victory.

However, like Barca, they had to settle for just a point with Rodri putting Zaragoza ahead early on before Cristiano Ronaldo levelled things up just before the break with his 28th La Liga goal of the campaign.

Neither side could go on to force a winner in the second half, with Marcelo hitting the post for Madrid and both goalkeepers making a number of vital interventions.

Malaga reclaimed fourth spot with a 3-1 victory at Rayo Vallecano.

Weligton gave Manuel Pellegrini's side the lead but Piti levelled for the hosts from the penalty spot.

Former Real Madrid forward Julio Baptista scored his first goal in 18 months to restore Malaga's lead early in the second half before Pedro Morales secured all three points with a wonderful goal.

"The run is the least important thing," Messi, who had just captained Barca for the first time in a league game, told reporters in Vigo.

"I have been lucky to score and to help the team in games. I don't give the records any importance. The important thing today was to win.

"It is difficult for everyone after the break for internationals, and it is never easy to play teams who are fighting to stay in the division."

Messi had a free-kick pushed round the post, and a shout for a penalty turned away before he set up Cristian Tello for Barca's equaliser before half-time with a curling ball over the top of the defence.

Winger Tello returned the favour with a low cross into the area in the 73rd minute, and Messi struck a first-time shot low into the far corner.

His scoring run started on 11 November and includes a four-goal blast against Osasuna and eight doubles.

"It's an unprecedented record," Barca assistant coach Jordi Roura told a news conference. "It proves what a great player he is.

"Those of us who are lucky enough to experience this with him appreciate what he does, and are able to enjoy it.

"Only with time will we truly value what this player is doing. It's incredible."