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On the verge of history

sports Updated: Dec 03, 2012 01:27 IST
Gerd Mueller

Lionel Messi closed in on Gerd Mueller's scoring mark as Barcelona crushed Athletic Bilbao 5-1 to set a new record for the best ever start to a La Liga season and stay 11 points clear of Real Madrid.

Defending champions Real edged city rivals Atletico 2-0 with Cristiano Ronaldo on target to keep their slender hopes of a title repeat alive.

Barca have now put together 13 wins and a draw from their first 14 matches to beat the previous best start set by Real in the 1991-92 season.

"It is great to have achieved this but I am happier still with the performance of my players and that even at 5-1 we continued to keep pressing and trying to score," said Barca coach Tito Vilanova. "There are still things we can improve on and we can still work harder."

Gerard Pique put the Catalan side ahead after 22 minutes followed quickly by Messi's first, which came off defender Fernando Amorebieta on the line, before Adriano Correia hit the third on the point of half-time. Match pointers

Cesc Fabregas then added to the deluge of goals and Ibai Gomez got a consolation before Messi struck again.


Messi is now just one goal off Mueller's record of 85 goals in a calendar year set for Bayern Munich and Germany in 1972.

Atletico drop points
Atletico Madrid, riding high in second place, felt they had their best chance to beat Real Madrid since their last triumph in October 1999 but they rarely threatened.

"We controlled the game at 1-0 and we didn't have many problems at the back. During half-time we spoke about getting a second as Atletico have players that can score at any moment," said coach Jose Mourinho's assistant Aitor Karanka. "We knew it would be a tough game as Atletico came with a lot of confidence and had a lot of points."

Ronaldo has had a quiet run by his own high standards without a goal in three games but he responded on 15 minutes with a free-kick from fully 30 yards which nestled in the corner. Ronaldo blazed wide from the edge of the area after 53 minutes and then set up Mesut Ozil to volley home the second from 15 yards.