Lionel Messi surpassed Pelé’s record of 75 goals in a calendar year set in 1958 as he scored twice during Barcelona’s entertaining 4-2 victory over Real Mallorca, which saw them remain three points ahead of the chasing pack.
In duly despatching the Brazilian’s haul, Messi moves ever closer to becoming the greatest ever goalscorer in a calendar year - a title held by Gerd Müller who scored 85 goals in 1972.
The Argentine still has 10 games left to surpass the astonishing record, if he plays in all of Barcelona’s and Argentina’s remaining fixtures this year.
Messi has now scored 76 goals in 2012 and given his goals per game average of 1.36 this season in La Liga, he certainly has a realistic chance of eclipsing the spectacular record set by Müller.
Barcelona went ahead last night in the 28th minute thanks to a typically effortless Xavi free-kick. Messi scored his first in the 44th minute with a jinking run followed by a tame shot which spilled by Mallorca ‘keeper Dudu Aouate.
Christian Tello made it 3-0 a minute later, but after shipping two soft goals in the second half, Barca saw their three-goal advantage reduced to one. Predictably, Messi secured the points for the Catalan club in the 70th minute by smashing into the roof of the next from the edge of the area, and with that, racked up his seventh brace of the season.
Elsewhere in La Liga, Atletico’s win over Getafe and a last-gasp Real Madrid victory at Levante ensured that the top three clubs remained separated by eight points. The top three leading goalscorers are also unaltered, with Messi and Ronaldo taking their tallies to 15 and 12 goals respectively, and Falcao staying put on ten.
As well launching an assault on Muller’s calendar goals total, Messi’s dominance is illustrated by the surfeit of records he already holds, including the titles of Barcelona’s leading Champions League goal scorer, Barcelona’s only player to net 15 hat-tricks in La Liga, and the only player to be crowned Champions League top scorer four years in a row.
Upon his comparison with Messi, Pelé famously said: “When Messi has scored 1,283 goals like me, when he’s won three World Cups, we’ll talk about it”. While the Argentine will probably never enjoy the same success on the international stage as Pelé , Messi’s dominance at the highest level of club football is what, in many an opinion, sets him apart from the Santos legend.