MADRID: Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi, jointly, set a record for Liga goals in a season when they each reached 41 in Real Madrid and Barcelona’s games.
Portugal forward Ronaldo, who set the previous best of 40 last term, headed home an Angel Di Maria centre in the 74th minute at the Estadio Bernabeu for Real Madrid’s second in a 3-1 win against Sporting Gijon. It was his 53rd goal in all competitions this term.
Messi matched him two hours later by scoring his and Barcelona’s second from a penalty in a 2-1 victory at Levante. Earlier the Argentinian World Player of the Year had scored Barca’s equaliser. He has 63 goals overall, four short of the all-time record of 67 set by former Bayern Munich striker Gerd Muller in 1972-73 .
Madrid, who lead Barcelona by four points with five games left and play at their arch rival’s Nou Camp stadium in a week’s time, also equalled the record for goals scored in a season of 107 set under Welsh coach John Toshack in 1990. Barca have 96.
In Germany Borussia Dortmund won 2-1 away to greatest rivals Schalke to set a Bundesliga record and move to the brink of retaining their championship title. Described by coach Jurgen Klopp as “greedy”, Dortmund raced eight points clear of Bayern Munich, who were held 0-0 at home by Mainz. They need two points from their final three games to clinch the crown.
Dortmund have now beaten the second and third-placed teams in the space of four days following their 1-0 victory over Bayern on Wednesday. Jefferson Farfan gave Schalke an early lead in the Ruhr derby but Lukasz Piszczek equalised in the 17th minute of a physical, unattractive game.
Sebastian Kehl punished poor defending to score the winner in the 63rd minute as Dortmund completed the Bundesliga double over third-placed Schalke and extended their unbeaten league run to 25 games, a record for a single season.
In Holland AZ Alkmaar wasted the chance to join Ajax Amsterdam at the top of the league by losing 3-2 at PSV Eindhoven. Alkmaar were upset when Tim Matavz grabbed the winner three minutes into stoppage time.
A blunder from keeper Esteban allowed Jeremain Lens to open the scoring after 17 minutes but superb long-range drives from Jozy Altidore and Roy Beerens turned the tide in Alkmaar’s favour before the break. Lens grabbed his second goal with 13 minutes to go and Alkmaar then conceded a second injury-time goal in four days after they were held to a 2-2 home draw by Twente Enschede on Wednesday.
Ajax have 61 points from 29 matches and can stretch their lead to six points when they host second from bottom Graafschap Doetinchem on Sunday. Second-placed Alkmaar are level on 58 points with Feyenoord who cruised to a 3-0 derby win over bottom club Excelsior Rotterdam.
In Russia Zenit St Petersburg beat CSKA Moscow 2-0 in the top-of-the-table clash to all but secure their second consecutive title with five games to spare. Luciano Spalletti’s team, backed by Russian energy giant Gazprom, need to win at Kuban Krasnodar next Saturday to clinch their third domestic title since 2007 after stretching their lead over second-placed CSKA to 14 points.
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