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    Barcelona thrash Athletic Bilbao 5-1 for best Spanish season start

    Messi\'s 11th double of the season leaves him one goal shy of Gerd Mueller\'s record of 85 for club and country in one year, set in 1972.

    Barcelona: Lionel Messi scored twice on Saturday as Barcelona made the best start in the history of the Spanish league on Saturday with a 5-1 home win over Athletic Bilbao. The leader's 13 wins and a draw in the opening 14 rounds surpasses Madrid's 12 wins and two draws to begin the 1991-92 campaign.

    Messi's 11th double of the season leaves him one goal shy of Gerd Mueller's record of 85 for club and country in one year, set in 1972. Barcelona led 3-0 by halftime thanks to goals by Gerard Pique, Messi and Adriano. Cesc Fabregas and Messi scored after halftime.

    Barcelona have a 14-point lead over Madrid ahead of the defending champion's game against Atletico Madrid later. Atletico are aiming to break a 13-year winless run against its fierce rival.

    The leader's milestone, unmatched in 81 previous seasons, came in the first year under coach Tito Vilanova, who took over from Pep Guardiola in the offseason after four campaigns as his assistant. "I'm very happy for the performance of my players and for having achieved the record," said Vilanova. "It's good to have won so many games, but I am even happier that even winning 5-1 we were still looking for a sixth goal until the end. I'm sure that we will compete for titles this season."

    Barcelona led 3-0 by halftime thanks to goals by Gerard Pique, Messi and Adriano. Cesc Fabregas and Messi scored after halftime. Messi's 11th double of the season left him one goal shy of Gerd Mueller's record of 85 for club and country in a calendar year, set in 1972.

    The 25-year-old Messi, who could become the first player to win the FIFA world player of the year award four times, has scored 28 times this season, including a league-leading 21 goals. Barcelona turned to a set-piece to break through with its passing game temporarily held in check early at Camp Nou. Pique pounced on the rebound of Fabregas' shot from a corner that goalkeeper Gorka Iraizoz did well to block to open the scoring in the 22nd.

    Messi then struck to double the advantage three minutes later when he took Xavi Hernandez's pass, dribbled across the box, and flipped a shot over Iraizoz that scrambling defender Fernando Amorebieta couldn't keep out of the net.

    Bilbao's defensive discipline crumbled, and moments after Messi hit the crossbar, Fabregas threaded a pass through the defense for the streaking Adriano to blast over Iraizoz in first-half injury time. Fabregas took his goal in the 57th from a pass by Andres Iniesta. "We enjoyed the game a lot and we each gave it our all," said Fabregas. "We are completely worn out, but it was well worth it."

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