Lionel Messi on target for record-setting Barcelona

Lionel Messi

Another goal from the prolific Lionel Messi helped Barcelona to a 3-1 victory over Malaga in La Liga as the leaders ended the first half of the season with a record points haul. Robin van Persie was on target as Premier League table-toppers Manchester United got the better of Liverpool but Juventus's lead in Serie A was cut once again after they were held 1-1 at Parma.


Unbeaten leaders Barcelona ended the first half of the season with a record 55 of a possible 57 points when Messi scored one goal and had a hand in two more in a 3-1 win at Malaga on Sunday.

An 18th victory in 19 games for Tito Vilanova's side restored their 11-point lead over second-placed Atletico Madrid, who earlier secured a 10th win in 10 home matches this term with a 2-0 success against Real Zaragoza.

Barca's win also extended their advantage over arch rivals Real Madrid to 18 points after the stuttering champions, mired in third, were held to a 0-0 draw at bottom side Osasuna on Saturday.Messi's goal was the World Player of the Year's 28th in the league this season and the ninth straight game he has scored, a personal best and one short of the La Liga record last achieved in the 1996-97 season by former Barca striker Ronaldo.


Manchester United maintained their seven-point lead at the top of the Premier League with a 2-1 home win over Liverpool where hotshot Van Persie opened the scoring before a nervous finish.

Nemanja Vidic put United 2-0 up without knowing much about it then substitute Daniel Sturridge gave Liverpool a lifeline and nearly snatched an undeserved draw.Second-placed Manchester City won 2-0 at Arsenal, their first league win there since 1975, thanks to Laurent Koscielny's 10th-minute red card and goals from James Milner and Edin Dzeko.City captain Vincent Kompany was also harshly dismissed in the second half.

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