La Liga: Barça win again as Messi is crowned king
Argentine striker breaks Gerd Müller’s record of goals in a calendar year despite the resistance of Betis. Meanwhile, Atlético Madrid’s own goal machine, Radamel Falcao, scores five against Deportivo.
By Halima Ali
On Wednesday night the Camp Nou was silenced. It was the worst sight for Los Culés, Lionel Messi, who had no need to be on the pitch with his FC Barcelona side having already qualified for the knockout stage of the Champions League, was stretchered off in considerable pain. It was meant to be a night of celebration, a night when the Argentine would set an incredible new record but it ended on a sour note.
Many feared it could be a long-term injury to his knee with even the man himself admitting: “I thought it was the last shot I was going to have for a long time…for a moment I thought the worst.” but he was back on the pitch at the Benito Villamarín stadium on Sunday night, fit and raring to go.
It didn’t take long for him to get back to what he does best, needing just the first 25 minutes to get a brace against Real Betis, the first shot equalling and the second strike – number 86 – breaking Gerd Müller’s 40-year-old record of goals in a calendar year.
That was not the only record to fall in Seville. He continued to re-write the history books as his strikes meant he reached 191 career league goals for Barcelona – more than anyone else in the history of the club, with the previous record of 190 held by César Rodríguez, who played for the Blaugrana in the 1940s and 50s.
But while all talk will be of Messi’s achievement and rightly so, the Catalans were fortunate to take all three points against the Béticos with even Gerard Piqué admitting his side were lucky.
Following the 25-year-old’s first goal which saw him fire across goal into the bottom corner and the second which saw a wonderful exchange with Andrés Iniesta resulting in the latter’s backheel being hit first time into the far corner by Messi, Barça were pegged back when Rubén Castro curled the ball beyond Victor Valdés.
The visitors found themselves under pressure in the second-half and Valdés was relieved when he almost dropped the ball at the feet of Castro and a Betis corner flicked off Javier Mascherano and Piqué onto the inside of the post.
Pedro was later denied the opportunity to secure the win by Adrián and Betis substitute Alejandro Pozuelo was unlucky when he rattled the crossbar.
Barça held on for their eighth successive away win of the season and maintained their six-point lead over Atlético Madrid in second. But the evening was all about Messi who – to the frustration of Cristiano Ronaldo – remains favourite to win the FIFA Ballon d’Or next month.
Next up for the league leaders however, are their closest rivals Atléti and a certain Colombian was setting a few records of his own at the weekend when Radamel Falcao became the first man in over a decade to score five goals in a single game in Spain as Diego Simeone’s men thrashed Deportivo La Coruña 6-0 .
The feat meant El Tigre took his tally to 16 in 15 la liga matches this season, three more than Ronaldo and seven behind top scorer Messi, with whom he will battle it out come the weekend, as their respective teams meet at the Camp Nou, in what will be the biggest test of Atléti’s liga aspirations.
Rayo Vallecano 0 – 2 Real Zaragoza
Real Betis 1 – 2 FC Barcelona
Atlético Madrid 6 – 0 Deportivo La Coruña
Athletic Bilbao 1 – 0 Celta de Vigo
Levante UD 4 – 0 RCD Mallorca
Osasuna 0 – 1 Valencia CF
Real Valladolid 2 – 3 Real Madrid
Málaga CF 4 – 0 Granada CF
Real Sociedad 1 – 1 Getafe CF
RCD Espanyol 2 – 2 Sevilla FC
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