With two swift kicks with his left foot, Lionel Messi erased Gerd Muller’s name from the record books and replaced it with his own.
The FC Barcelona superstar scored two first-half goals against Real Betis — his 85th and 86th goals of 2012 — breaking Muller’s record for most goals scored in a calendar year. The German legend set the bar in 1972. Messi passed it on Sunday.
Muller scored 85 goals in 60 games for Bayern Munich and Germany in his magical year. Messi scored 74 times for Barcelona and 12 for Argentina (in 66 games to date). He could add to his tally during Barcelona’s last three games of 2012.
Messi tied the 40-year-old mark in the 16th minute with a solo effort. Nine minutes later, he finished a quick interchange with teammate Andres Iniesta, thumping his shot to the far post.
Messi’s record-chase gained worldwide attention in November after he passed Pele to move into second place.
It also contained a moment of high drama, as the Argentine was carted off the field after suffering a knee injury. At the time, it looked like the injury would sideline him and end his pursuit, but tests revealed that he had suffered a bruised knee.
The 25-year-old was healthy enough to start Sunday’s game, and he promptly passed “Der Bomber” before halftime.
In May, Messi broke another of Mueller’s hallowed records. His 68th goal of the 2011-12 season passed Mueller’s record for goals in a single season (set in the 1972-73 season). He finished the campaign with an astonishing 73 goals to his name.
The world will applaud Messi for breaking yet another record, but it’s unlikely he’ll make much of a fuss over Sunday’s feat. It’s just another day in the park for the “Atomic Flea.”
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