Lionel Messi scored twice in Barcelona’s 2-1 victory against Real Betis to break Gerd Muller’s goal-scoring record in a calender year.
The 40-year-old record always looked likely to be broken by Messi as the player was just one goal behind Muller with nearly the whole of December for the player to surpass the achievement, despite a brief scare when the Argentine had to be stretchered off in Barca’s final Champions League group game.
The injury was not as bad as initially feared and Messi started the La Liga fixture against Betis.
The 1972 record was in Messi’s sights, and it would take a brave Betis side to try to stop him grabbing it, but the 25-year-old did not hang around and scored after just 16 minutes of play to draw level with the German player’s long-standing record.
Now level with Muller on 85 goals in a calender year, Messi was hunting down the opportunity to surpass the German’s achievement and prevailed only nine minutes later when he was set up with a cheeky backheel by a man who has assisted so many of the playmaker’s goals, Andres Iniesta.
But Messi was as modest as ever when asked how it felt to surpass the 40-year-old record, claiming that the three points the team added to their La Liga tally was the most important thing.
“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,” he said.
“My goals are to win titles with the team, the Spanish league, Spanish Cup or Champions League is more important than any personal records.”
Messi’s career has been full of achievement so far, and last season’s flurry of goals saw him become La Liga’s most successful goal-scorer and equal the record of scoring 14 times in a Champions League campaign.
The FIFA Ballon d’Or is just around the corner, and the tenacious little star is the firm favourite to claim the award ahead of Barca team-mate Iniesta and arch-rival Cristiano Ronaldo of Real Madrid.
If Messi does take home the honour of being crowned the world’s best player, it will be the fourth time he has won the award, meaning he becomes the first ever player to do so.