Ivan Rakitic scored his first goal of the season seven minutes after coming on as a substitute to help Barcelona beat Athletic Club 1-0 on Tuesday evening.
Much of the pre-match build-up surrounded Lionel Messi – as it usually does – with the Argentina international sitting on 699 career goals before kick off.
However, it was Croatia international Rakitic who broke the deadlock in the 71st minute when he collected Messi’s clever reverse and smashed in beyond Athletic goalkeeper Unai Simon.
Barcelona dominated possession throughout and Messi came close to his 700th goal on a number of occasions. The 32-year-old lifted one over from range just before half time and later curled wide from 20 yards.
The victory takes Barça three points clear of Real Madrid at the top of La Liga, though Los Blancos can reclaim top spot with a win of their own against Mallorca on Wednesday.
Quique Setien included Arthur in his starting lineup, alongside Sergio Busquets and Arturo Vidal in midfield.
The Brazilian has been linked with a move to Juventus, with reports indicating the current Serie A champions will pay €80m for his services. The deal could see Miralem Pjanic leave Turin for Catalonia, though there are still complications to be ironed out.
There was also cause for concern for Barça over Gerard Pique, who looked to have injured his groin in the late stages of the game.
Next up for the Catalonian side is a trip to Celta Vigo on Saturday, before they host Diego Simeone’s Atletico Madrid three days later.