Lionel Messi broke Gerd Mueller’s 1972 record of 85 goals in a calendar year by scoring twice on Sunday for Spanish leaders Barcelona at Real Betis.
Messi had been doubtful for the match with a badly bruised left knee but was declared fit to play.
The impish Argentine equalled Mueller’s record 16 minutes into the game with one of his trademark dribbles from right to left followed by an unstoppable low drive from his trusty left foot.
Messi overtook Mueller by making it 2-0 for Barca just 10 minutes later. He played a clever one-two with Andres Iniesta on the left side of the Betis penalty area, then let fly again with his legendary left foot, beating home goalkeeper Adrian for the second time.
Barca went into the game three points ahead of second-place Atletico Madrid, with Messi keen to overtake Mueller.
He had tried to do so without success in Wednesday’s Champions league 0-0 draw at home to Benfica but was stretchered off three minutes from time after taking a heavy blow to the left knee.
Fears that Messi had suffered a severe injury were quickly dispelled, and he made it clear on Saturday that he was fit enough to play against Betis.