Messi sets record as Barca tops Real Betis
Seville, Spain (Sports Network) - Lionel Messi broke another record on Sunday as he scored a pair of goals against Real Betis in a 2-1 win to give him 86 for the calendar year.
That total eclipses the 85 goals that German legend Gerd Muller netted in 1972, only adding to the already unbelievable resume of the Argentina international.
Messi tied Muller's mark with a goal in the 16th minute before breaking it nine minutes later to give Barca a 2-0 lead.
Ruben Castro pulled a goal back for the home side before halftime, but Barca was able to hang on for its eighth successive win despite a few anxious moments.
Messi's opening goal was a wonderful solo effort that saw him weave his way through the Betis back line and place a left-footed shot inside the right post beyond the reach of goalkeeper Adrian.
His second tally was set up by a clever back heel from Andres Iniesta inside the area that allowed him to net his record-setting goal in the 25th minute.
Castro converted Alvaro Vadillo's cross in the 39th minute to haul his side back into the contest, but Betis was unlucky not to equalize in the 70th when a flicked header from Alberto Canas struck the post.
Atletico Madrid 6, Deportivo 0
Madrid, Spain - Atletico Madrid striker Radamel Falcao put on a devastating display against Deportivo on Sunday as the Colombian bagged five goals in a 6-0 thrashing of the visitors.
Diego Costa tallied the opener with a headed goal from Koke's corner kick midway through the first half.
Falcao then took complete control of the game and exposed the injury-depleted back line of Deportivo with a one-man show.
His first goal came in the 28th minute and was followed by another shortly before halftime on a well-struck volley.
The barrage continued in the second half as Falcao converted a penalty kick to make it 4-0 before scoring two more goals from close range to take his tally to 17 La Liga goals.
The result keeps Atletico within six points of leaders Barcelona, while Deportivo has earned one point from its last five games and is second from the bottom.
Levante 4, Mallorca 0
Valencia, Spain - Mallorca's slide down the table continued on Sunday as the club was on the wrong end of a 4-0 drubbing at Levante.
Mallorca has now gone winless in its last 10 La Liga matches, leaving the club one point above the drop zone.
Obafemi Martins got the scoring started shortly before halftime when he tracked down a long ball and beat goalkeeper Dudu Aouate for his sixth goal of the campaign.
Levante then wasted little time in putting the result out of reach in the second half as David Navarro headed home a corner kick at the back post before Ruben Garcia made it 3-0 by scoring in the 55th minute from a Martins pass.
Martins had a hand in the fourth goal as well, which was finished off by Vicente Iborra a few minutes later.
Athletic Bilbao 1, Celta Vigo 0
Bilbao, Spain - Athletic Bilbao moved six points clear of the relegation zone on Sunday after recording a 1-0 win at home against Celta Vigo.
Bilbao had earned one point from its last three games, which included 5-1 defeats against both Barcelona and Real Madrid.
But the home side found things a bit easier on Sunday and Aritz Aduriz netted the deciding goal in the 33rd minute when he got up to head home a cross from Ibai Gomez.
Celta's attack never got going and the defeat drops them three points back of Bilbao.