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 Muller's all-time record as Barcelona won 4-2 at Mallorca in the Spanish league on Sunday.
The 25-year-old Argentine forward now needs 10 more goals by end of next month to better Bayern Munich and West Germany legend Gerd Muller's world record of 85, scored back in 1972. Muller's record, however, came in just 60 matches, whereas Messi has already appeared in 59.
Xavi Hernandez unlocked Mallorca’s defence 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. 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 their loss at Celtic in the Champions League.
Barcelona’s 10th win in 11 rounds extended their club-record start and opened up a provisional 11-point gap over third-place Madrid ahead of their game at Levante. Second-place Atletico Madrid are five points behind the pacesetters heading into its game against Getafe.
Messi’s seventh double of the season increased his league-leading tally to 15 goals. He has 20 in all competitions this season. 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.