Messi sets goal record for a year; Falcao scores 5

  • Article by: The Associated Press
  • Associated Press
  • December 9, 2012 - 4:58 PM

BARCELONA, Spain - Barcelona's Lionel Messi and Atletico Madrid's Radamel Falcao were unstoppable Sunday on a night when both stars again demonstrated why their teams are first and second in the Spanish league.

Messi broke a 40-year record for most goals in a year by scoring his 85th and 86th goals of 2012 to lead Barcelona to a 2-1 win at Real Betis. Falcao struck five times to power Atletico past Deportivo La Coruna 6-0.

Messi struck in the 16th and 25th minutes to break German great Gerd Mueller's 1972 record of 85 goals.

"As I always say, my objectives are on a team level: to win the league, the Champions League and the Copa del Rey again," Messi said.

Barcelona's eighth win in as many away games this season puts it six points ahead of Atletico and 11 in front of defending champion Real Madrid.

Falcao is the first player to score five goals in one game in the Spanish league since 2001-02.


MANCHESTER, England (AP) — Robin van Persie scored in the third minute of stoppage time to send Manchester United to a 3-2 victory over Manchester City, ending the champions' unbeaten start to the Premier League season.

The outcome left Manchester United six points ahead of its neighbor. City hadn't lost at home in the league since December 2010.

Van Persie spurned Manchester City's advances in the offseason and left Arsenal in August. His goal off a free kick wiped out City's comeback.

"It was obviously a difficult angle, but we work on that together at the training ground," United striker Wayne Rooney said. "I had no doubt he could score from there, and thankfully he's won us the game."

The hosts had responded to Rooney's two first-half scores with goals from Yaya Toure and Pablo Zabaleta after the break.

The end of the game was marred by crowd disorder. United defender Rio Ferdinand was hit by a coin and was bleeding above his left eye; City goalkeeper Joe Hart confronted a fan who stormed the field. City apologized to Ferdinand and the English Football Association opened an investigation.

Also Sunday, Everton dislodged Tottenham from fourth place by winning 2-1 with two stoppage-time goals. Liverpool won 3-2 at West Ham.


MILAN (AP) — Defending champion Juventus celebrated coach Antonio Conte's return with a victory, with Stephan Lichtsteiner scoring in the second half of a 1-0 victory over Palermo in Serie A.

Conte was back on the bench after serving a four-month ban for failing to report match-fixing when he coached Siena two seasons ago.

First-place Juventus is four points ahead of Inter Milan, which beat Napoli 3-1 to move above its opponent into second place.

"I missed the smell of the grass," Conte said. "These four months have been painful, but it was a formative experience. With my absence it was as if Juve was a car starting the Grand Prix with deflated tires."

AC Milan continued its recent resurgence with its third consecutive league victory, winning 4-2 at Torino. Midfielder Nigel De Jong, however, is done for the season after he snapped his Achilles tendon in the 21st minute.


THE HAGUE, Netherlands (AP) — PSV Eindhoven moved top of the Dutch league, beating FC Twente 3-0 to round off a weekend in which all 33,000 amateur matches in the country were called off because of the death of a linesman attacked by players after a youth match a week ago.

Georginio Wijnaldum, Tim Matavz and Narsingh scored as PSV leapt from third place above Twente and Vitesse Arnhem, which lost 3-1 at VVV-Venlo.

All Eredivisie matches were preceded by a minute's silence and players and officials wore black armbands in honor of Richard Nieuwenhuizen. He died Monday, a day after he was attacked following a match in which one of his sons was playing. Four teenage players from Amsterdam club Nieuw Sloten are in custody, suspected of involvement in the beating.


PARIS (AP) — Marseille played poorly at home again, losing 3-0 to Lorient. It missed a chance to pressure French leader Lyon before its road game to rival Saint-Etienne.

Marseille, which lost 4-1 at home to Lyon two weeks ago, dropped to third place behind Paris Saint-Germain, which has the same number of points but a vastly better goal difference. PSG thrashed struggling Evian 4-0 at home Saturday, with Zlatan Ibrahimovic taking his league-leading total to 14 goals in just 13 games.

A win at Saint-Etienne would put Lyon five points ahead.


ATHENS, Greece (AP) — Rafik Djebbour scored twice against Panathinaikos but could not lead Olympiakos to victory, with the rivals drawing 2-2 at Athens' Olympic Stadium in the Greek league.

Olympiakos stayed at the top of the league but its lead over PAOK was reduced to eight points. Panathinaikos, in the midst of a difficult season, is seventh, 16 points behind the leader.

Third-place Asteras drew 1-1 at home against Aris; Xanthi moved from last place with a 4-0 win over fifth-place Panionios; and Platanias and Veria played to a scoreless draw.

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