MADRID: Lionel Messi closed in on Gerd Muller’s record of 75 goals in a calendar year by taking his tally to 68 with his seventh double of term in Barcelona’s 3-1 home win over Zaragoza in La Liga.
Messi, goalless in midweek for Argentina against Saudi Arabia, also set up midfielder Alex Song for a first goal since his summer arrival from Arsenal.
The World Player of the Year has scored 17 goals so far this term for the La Liga leaders.
Third-placed Real Madrid prepared perfectly for their Champions Leahue visit to Manchester City by thrashing Athletic Bilbao 5-1. After Jon Aurtenetxe’s early own goal further strikes from Karim Benzema, Sergio Ramos, Mesut Ozil and Sami Khedira secured Madrid’s seventh win in eight games.
Madrid have put 19 goals past Bilbao in their last four league meetings at the Estadio Bernabeu. Surprisingly, Cristiano Ronaldo failed to add to his tally of 12 league goals.
In France Paris Saint-Germain held on to top spot despite losing 2-1 at home to a Rennes side who finished with nine men. PSG were condemned to their second successive home league defeat by first-half goals from Romain Alessandrini and Julien Feret.
Rennes, despite having keeper Benoit Costil sent off in the 25th minute and midfielder Jean Makoun in the 51st, conceded only a single goal to Nene – though luckless PSG did hit the posts three times. They missed top-scoring Zlatan Ibrahimovic through suspension.
In Germany Bayern Munich’s table-topping run came to an end in a 1-1 draw at struggling Nurnberg but they still extended their lead to eight points because pursuers Schalke lost 2-0 at Bayer Leverkusen.
Bayern, who had won 10 of their previous 11 league games, were weakened by the decision of coach Jupp Heynckes to rest several star players ahead of their Champions League duel with Valencia.
Mario Mandzukic opened the scoring with his ninth league goal but Nurnberg hit back through Markus Feulner.
In Italy two superb goals from young Italy striker Stephan El Shaarawy inspired Milan to revive from two goals down to draw 2-2 at Napoli while Serie A leaders Juventus were held 0-0 at home to Lazio.
In Serbia former European champions Red Star Belgrade twice came from behind to beat champions and league leaders Partizan 3-2 derby to narrow their advantage at the top of the table to five points. Partizan are chasing a record sixth successive league title.
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