BARCELONA: World Player of the Year Leo Messi ended his 2012 campaign with a record tally of 91 goals after Barcelona won 3-1 away toValladolid.

The win was the unbeaten Spanish leaders’ 16th in 17 league matches and restored their nine-point advantage over second-placed Atletico de Madrid who had beaten Celta 1-0 on Friday. Barca have a Liga record at this stage of 49 points.

Messi started the 43rd-minute move which ended with Barcelona’s first goal for playmaker Xavi. Messi doubled their lead in the 59th minute with his 26th league goal of the campaign to extend the calendar year record he broke earlier this month when he surpassed Gerd Muller’s 40-year-old mark of 85.

Javi Guerra pulled a goal back for Valladolid in the 89th minute before Cristian Tello added a third for Barca in stoppage time.

Barcelona’s players went into the game buoyed by the news that coach Tito Vilanova had left hospital earlier in the day after surgery on cancer-tainted saliva glands. Assistant Jordi Roura was in charge of the team atValladolid.

Champions Real Madrid slipped further adrift after losing 3-2 at Malaga where coach Jose Mourinho surprisingly dropped Iker Casillas. It was the first time Spain’s World Cup and Euro-titles winning goalkeeper and captain had been dropped in 10 years.

In France Nolan Roux scored twice and set up another goal as Lille thrashed champions Montpellier4-1.Montpellier were already two goals down when playmaker Younes Belhanda was sent off in first-half stoppage time for a kick at Benoit Pedretti.

Lille climbed to fifth, albeit nine points behind leaders Paris Saint-Germain who won 3-0 away to Brest.

In Italy Lazio moved up into second place after a 1-0 win at Sampdoria and overtook Internazionale who were held 1-1 at home by Genoa. The result left Inter nine points behind leaders Juventus heading into the mid-season break.

# # # #