Lionel Messi leaves Cristiano Ronaldo in shade with ninth double of the season


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The Independent Football

Cristiano Ronaldo may never be the darling of Spain but his great rival Lionel Messi remains ever-popular and demonstrated why again at the weekend.

The Argentine grabbed his ninth double of the season in Barcelona's 3-1 victory over Real Zaragoza on Saturday to keep the club six points clear at the top of La Liga.

He has now scored 12 in his last eight matches while equalling Brazilian legend Pele's record of 66 club goals in a calendar year. He sits eight behind German striker Gerd Muller's 1972 total of 85 goals (club and country) in a single year.

Meanwhile, Ronaldo hit a rare fallow period, failing to register as Real Madrid beat Athletic Bilbao 5-1 – a third blank in four.