Barcelona: Lionel Messi surpassed Pele’s milestone of goals in a calendar year by scoring for the 75th and 76th time in 2012 to move within nine of Gerd Mueller’s all-time record as Barcelona won 4-2 at Mallorca in the Spanish league.
Xavi Hernandez unlocked Mallorca’s defense with a free kick in the 28th minute before Messi struck in the 44th.
Cristian Tello added a third goal a minute later at Iberostar stadium on Sunday.
After Mallorca netted twice early in the second half to breathe life into the match, Messi stepped up to score again the 70th to ensure victory as Barcelona rebounded from its loss at Celtic in the Champions League.
“Leo’s records are spectacular” said Barcelona coach Tito Vilanova. “It’s spectacular when you think that he scores so many goals. Some few players reach these numbers in seven or eight seasons, he does it in one. And most of his goals are great goals.”
This is the latest scoring feat for the Argentina forward, one of the leading candidates for the Ballon D’Or. Messi scored 73 goals in the 2011-12 season for Barcelona, breaking the previous European club record of 67 goals set by Mueller in 1972-73.
He also set a Spanish league record of 50 goals last season and broke Cesar Rodriguez’s 57-year milestone of 232 goals to become Barcelona all-time leading scorer.
Barcelona’s 10th win in 11 rounds extended its club-record start and opened up a provisional 11-point gap over third-place Madrid ahead of its game at Levante.
Also, second-place Atletico Madrid stayed three points behind the pacesetters by easing past visiting Getafe 2-0 thanks to goals by Adrian Lopez and Arda Turan.
Messi’s seventh double of the season increased his league-leading tally to 15 goals. He has 20 in all competitions this season.
Pele scored 75 goals for Brazil and Santos in 1958. Mueller had 85 in 1972 for West Germany and Bayern Munich.
Elsewhere on Sunday, Athletic Bilbao beat visiting Sevilla 2-0 for its first back-to-back wins of the season, while 10-man Valencia stayed winless away this season after drawing 1-1 at Valladolid.
Portugal captain Cristiano Ronaldo will miss Wednesday’s friendly against Gabon in Libreville after he sustained a cut above his left eye in Sunday’s 2-1 La Liga win at Levante, the Portuguese Federation (FPF) said on Monday.
The FPF confirmed the injury would keep him out adding Valencia defender Joao Pereira and Dynamo Kiev midfielder Miguel Veloso had also pulled out of the squad because of injuries.
Ronaldo was caught by David Navarro’s elbow in the opening minutes of the match in Valencia and after being patched up
on the side of the pitch returned to score Real’s 21st-minute opener. He was replaced by Raul Albiol at halftime and coach Jose Mourinho said his vision in both eyes was affected by the blow, which left one side of the Portuguese international’s face covered with blood.
“It was impossible for him to play on so when we get back to Madrid he’ll go to hospital to have the necessary checks,” Mourinho said.
His absence will be a big blow for Portugal coach Paolo Bento.