There was no doubting the story of the weekend as Lionel Messi surpassed a 40-year-old scoring record in FC Barcelona's 2-1 win at Real Betis Balompié, the incredible Argentinian forward overshadowing Falcao's five-goal haul for Club Atlético de Madrid and Robin van Persie's last-gasp winner in the Manchester derby. Elsewhere, Olympique Lyonnais beat their own local rivals, and Juventus and FC Bayern München extended their league leads, as UEFA.com recaps.
Lionel Messi made history on a spectacular Sunday evening in the Liga as his two goals at Real Betis Balompié took him beyond Gerd Müller's record tally of 85 goals for club and country in a calendar year – while propelling leaders Barcelona to victory. The Argentinian has now struck 23 times in 16 league outings this term, seven more than second-placed Falcao, who found himself outshone despite five goals in Atlético's 6-0 defeat of RC Deportivo La Coruña. "He always wants more and this is a historic day," commented Atlético coach Diego Simeone, whose side trail Barça by six points ahead of their meeting next weekend. In third, Real Madrid CF fought back to win 3-2 at Real Valladolid CF and Málaga CF climbed up to fourth.
"It is too early to draw any conclusions about the title race," said Manchester United FC manager Sir Alex Ferguson after his side moved six points clear at the summit by condemning rivals Manchester City FC to a 3-2 loss and their first home defeat since 20 December 2010. "City will be fresh for the second half of the season – they are out of European football – but we will still have Europe, the FA Cup and the league to contend with," he reasoned. Meanwhile, Fernando Torres scored his first league goals since 6 October as Chelsea FC eased past Sunderland AFC 3-1, while Everton FC are fourth after coming from behind to defeat Tottenham Hotspur FC 2-1 at Goodison Park.
FC Internazionale Milano took the points in the big game in Serie A as they posted a 2-1 victory against SSC Napoli to leapfrog the Partenopei into second spot. That lifted Inter within four points of pacesetters Juventus, who extended their advantage courtesy of a nervy 1-0 success at US Città di Palermo that had Juve coach Antonio Conte biting his nails. "If Palermo had equalised at the end, I would've locked the team in the dressing room," he said. "In fact, we'd have just stayed here for two days as punishment." Elsewhere, AS Roma downed ACF Fiorentina 4-2 to jump ahead of their opponents and AC Milan continued their revival by seeing off Torino FC by the same scoreline.
"These are the games you have to win if you're to be champions, and we've won again." It is hard to argue with Bayern striker Mario Gomez's logic. Gomez hit the second goal as the Bavarian giants beat FC Augsburg 2-0, putting Bayern an imperious 11 points clear in pole position after second-placed Bayer 04 Leverkusen lost 3-2 at Hannover 96 on Sunday. Reigning champions Borussia Dortmund also came unstuck, losing 3-2 at home against VfL Wolfsburg to leave them 14 points adrift of Bayern – whose fans are dreaming of a first Bundesliga title in three years with the winter break fast approaching.
Lyon gave a serious demonstration of their Ligue 1 title credentials as they eked out a 1-0 success at local rivals AS Saint-Étienne despite losing Mouhamadou Dabo to a 56th-minute red card – although fourth-placed St-Etienne also finished the match with ten men. The result ended Les Verts' ten-game unbeaten run in the league and lifted Lyon five points ahead of nearest challengers Paris Saint-Germain FC – 4-0 victors against Évian Thonon Gaillard FC 4-0 – and Olympique de Marseille, who succumbed 3-0 at home to FC Lorient. "Nothing worked; nothing went the way we wanted," said OM coach Élie Baup.
Defending Greek champions Olympiacos FC maintained their 16-point lead over seventh-placed rivals Panathinaikos FC after coming from behind to salvage a 2-2 draw in Piraeus. Also comfortably placed are FC København, who prevailed 4-1 in their top-of-the-table duel with FC Nordsjælland and head into the winter break 12 points clear. Elsewhere, PSV Eindhoven displaced FC Twente at the Dutch Eredivisie summit after triumphing 3-0 at home to Steve McClaren's men, while, in Portugal, Jackson Martínez scored 19 minutes from time as FC Porto edged out bottom side Moreirense FC 1-0 to maintain their unbeaten start to the season.
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