BARCELONA'S LIONEL MESSI HAS SET THE RECORD FOR MOST GOALS IN A CALENDER YEAR BY SCORING HIS 85TH AND 86TH GOAL OF 2012
The 25-year-old Argentine overhauled Gerd Mueller's tally of 85 - set in 1972 - to set a new benchmark which includes goals for club and country.
Messi set the new record with two goals in a 2-1 win over Real Betis on Sunday.
He fired in an angled shot after 16 minutes to equal the German's record before adding a second with a low drive in the 25th minute to set the new mark.
Three-time World Player of the Year Messi's attempt to break Mueller's record looked set to falter after he was carried off on a stretcher during Barcelona's Champions League group game draw with Benfica on Wednesday.
The forward feared he had seen the "last ball I'd touch for a long time because of the pain" but the injury to his left knee was not as bad as he thought and he started against Betis.
Messi's path to the record has included 74 goals for Barcelona and 12 for Argentina in 66 games.
He still has two league matches and one King's Cup tie to add to his tally before the end of the year.
"I always say the same, it's nice for what it means but the victory is more important as it maintains our lead over the other teams," the modest Messi told Spanish TV station Canal Plus afterwards.
"My goal when the year began was to try to achieve everything again, with the team, in the league, the (King's) Cup, the Champions League. I always start with that idea in mind."
Mueller scored 72 for Bayern Munich and 13 for West Germany when he set the previous benchmark in 1972 and was 27 at the time.
Messi is now favourite to claim a fourth Fifa world player of the year award after making the three-man shortlist which also includes Barcelona team-mate Andres Iniesta and Real Madrid's Cristiano Ronaldo.
"Messi will be the player to win the most Ballons d'Or in history," said former Barcelona player and manager as well as Dutch legend Johann Cruyff.
"He will win five, six, seven. He is incomparable. He's in a different league."
Messi is already Barcelona's all-time record goalscorer but was equal with Cesar Rodriguez on 192 at the top of the club's leading league scoring list before his goals against Betis moved him clear at the top of that as well.