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Messi breaks Muller's record

ESPN staff
December 9, 2012
Lionel Messi points to the sky after scoring © PA Photos
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Lionel Messi wrote his name into the history books as he scored his 86th goal of the year to break Gerd Muller's record of most goals in a calendar year.

The Argentina international scored twice inside the opening half an hour of Barcelona's 2-1 win at Real Betis on Sunday to move ahead of Muller, who scored 85 goals during 1972.

Messi opened the scoring after 16 minutes to draw level with Muller, before moving clear of the prolific German nine minutes later after setting a new world record.

"I've said it a lot, it's nice to beat records but the win for the team is what is important and the points difference at the top," said Messi.

"My goals are to win titles with the team, the Spanish league, Spanish Cup or Champions League is more important than any personal records. My objective at the start of the season was to win another La Liga title."

Barca now sit 11 points ahead of fierce rivals Real Madrid. Another battle between the Spanish giants will take place when the Ballon d'Or award is handed out next month, and Messi is hoping that he or team-mate Andres Iniesta ge the nod ahead of Madrid's Cristiano Ronaldo.

"If Iniesta wins, it will be well-deserved for all that he has done, for the way he plays. Again, it will also be a prize for the dressing room," he said.

Manager Tito Vilanova did not hold back his praise for Messi, though, claiming the feat could be just the start of a string of similar records set during his career.

"It seems impossible to score so many goals, let's hope he can add to the record in the games to come," said Vilanova.

"He is still young and gives us so much, even tonight he helped us out defensively when we needed it, he has so many more qualities than just his goals."

Messi sparked fears he would fall agonisingly short of Muller's landmark when he was stretchered off of Barcelona's Champions League match against Benfica in midweek after colliding with keeper Artur.

However, tests subsequently revealed Messi had only suffered bruising to his left knee and the 25-year-old was declared fit to line up in Seville, where he wasted no time in stamping his mark on the match.

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