Messi on the double to break Muller's 40-year-old scoring record


SPAIN/ITALY:Barcelona’s Lionel Messi reached another milestone in his phenomenal career last night when he set a record for goals scored in a calendar year of 86 with a La Liga double at Real Betis, beating Gerd Muller’s 40-year-old tally of 85.

In a 2-1 win, the 25-year-old equalled the record with his first of the night in Seville when he picked up the ball in a central position in the 16th minute and left the Betis defence standing before sending an angled shot across goal into the bottom right corner.

Andres Iniesta’s clever back heel set the Argentine up to score again nine minutes later with a sweeping shot from a similar position just inside the penalty area that flew into the same corner of the goal.

“I always say the same, it’s nice for what it means but the victory is more important as it maintains our lead over the other teams,” a typically modest Messi said after the game.

“My goal when the year began was to try to achieve everything again, with the team, in the league, the Cup, the Champions League,” he added. “I always start with that idea in mind.”

Favourite to secure a fourth successive World Player award when the winner is announced next month, Messi has netted 74 times for Barca and 12 for Argentina in 2012, surpassing Muller’s total for Bayern Munich and Germany in 1972.

The win helps Barcelona maintain their lead at the top of the La Liga table. They remain six points clear of Atletico Madrid, who put Deportivo La Coruna to the sword 6-0, with striker Radamel Falcao netting five.

Real Madrid twice had to come from behind to scrape a 3-2 win at Real Valladolid on Saturday.

In Italy, Juventus coach Antonio Conte enjoyed a winning return to the touchline as the Serie A leaders celebrated the end of his four-month ban with a 1-0 win at Palermo thanks to Stephan Lichtsteiner’s early goal, while Inter Milan’s 2-1 win over Napoli took them second.

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