Lionel Messi set a record for goals scored in a calendar year of 86 when he netted his second in Barcelona's 2-1 win at Real Betis in La Liga tonight, beating Gerd Müller's 40-year-old record of 85.
The 25-year-old World Player of the Year earlier equalled Müller's mark when he picked up the ball in a central position in the 16th minute and left the Betis defence standing before sending an angled shot across goal into the bottom right corner.
Andres Iniesta's clever back heel set the Argentine up to score again nine minutes later with a sweeping shot that flew into the same corner of the goal.
Favourite to secure a fourth successive World Player award when the winner is announced next month, Messi has netted 74 times for Barça and 12 for Argentina in 2012, beating Müller's total for Bayern Munich and Germany in 1972. He has scored 56 in La Liga, 13 in the Champions League, three in the King's Cup and two in the Spanish Super Cup.
Messi's double took his tally in 15 La Liga outings this season to 23 and he also became Barça's all-time top league scorer on 191 goals, one more than Cesar Rodriguez.
Another goalscoring feat in Spain last night saw Atletico Madrid striker Radamel Falcao put bottom-of-the-table Deportivo la Coruna to the sword with an incredible five-goal haul in a crushing 6-0 home win.
The prolific Colombian, linked with a big-money move to Chelsea, took his tally for the season to 16 in 15 matches as Atletico restored their five-point lead over chasing city rivals Real Madrid.
Jose Mourinho's Real side twice had to come from behind to scrape a 3-2 win at Real Valladolid on Saturday which closed the gap to Atletico, whom they beat 2-0 at the Bernabeu last week, to two points overnight. However, Atletico responded by romping to a 12th win in 15 outings this term against a Depor side in danger of dropping straight back down to the second division after winning promotion at the end of last season.
Diego Costa opened the scoring with a header from Koke's corner in the 23rd minute. Depor midfielder Juan Valeron headed against a post four minutes later but Atletico doubled their lead on their next foray forward when Falcao sped on to Koke's pass and fired a fizzing low drive into the corner of the net.
A quick throw on the left three minutes before the break set up the 26-year-old for his second and he crashed a dipping shot past Daniel Aranzubia from the corner of the penalty area. Falcao then won and converted a penalty in the 64th minute to complete his hat-trick, flung himself to head Arda Turan's deflected shot over the line and netted a clinical fifth in the 71st minute.
He is the first player to score five goals in a La Liga match since Fernando Morientes for Real Madrid against Las Palmas in 2002.
In Italy, the Juventus coach Antonio Conte enjoyed a winning return to the touchline as the Serie A leaders celebrated the end of his four-month ban with a 1-0 victory at Palermo.
Stephan Lichtsteiner scored early in the second half of a game in which both teams struggled on a difficult pitch that cut up badly following a hailstorm at half-time.
Napoli, who started the day in second place, lost 2-1 at Internazionale, the home side moving above them. Milan continued their revival with a third league victory in a row, coming from behind to win 4-2 at Torino.
In the Netherlands, PSV Eindhoven brushed aside visiting leaders Twente Enschede 3-0 to move back to the top of the table in place of Steve McClaren's team.
In France, Joey Barton's Marseilles had Charles Kaboré sent off in the first half as they slumped to a 3-0 home defeat to Lorient. Leaders Lyons won 1-0 in the derby with Saint-Etienne despite being reduced to 10 men.