Lionel Messi passes Pele milestone as Barcelona win

Lionel Messi

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 yesterday.

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.

e also set a Spanish league record of 50 goals last season and broke Cesar Rodriguez's 57-year miles one 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.

Joaquin Caparros' Mallorca tried to follow Celtic's defensive blueprint from Wednesday's upset in Glasgow.

But the strategy didn't last even half an hour.

... contd.

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