Messi sets record goal tally
Madrid - Lionel Messi wrote his name into the history books on Sunday by grabbing a record 86th goal in 2012, but the little Argentine master shrugged off his latest career landmark.
Messi surpassed Gerd Mueller's 1972 record of 85 goals in a calendar year with a first-half double that helped his side to an important 2-1 win at Real Betis.
But the 25-year-old was happier to highlight the win more than the record.
"I've said it a lot, it's nice to beat records but the win for the team is what is important and the points difference at the top," said Messi as Barcelona maintained their six-point lead over Atletico Madrid and 11-point gap on Real Madrid.
"My goals are to win titles with the team, the Spanish league, Spanish Cup or Champions League is more important than any personal records."
It did not take long for Messi to equal Mueller's record with his side's first real attack on 16 minutes in Seville, making a diagonal run across the Betis defence before hitting a left footed shot into the right hand corner.
His history-making moment came nine minutes later when he struck from almost an identical position after good play from Adriano and Andres Iniesta.
"My objective at the start of the season was to win another La Liga title," added Messi, who is also in line to win a record fourth successive Ballon d'Or.
For that accolade, he will face competition from teammate Iniesta and Real Madrid rival Cristiano Ronaldo.
"If Iniesta wins, it will be well-deserved for all that he has done, for the way he plays. Again, it will also be a prize for the dressing room."
Barca coach Tito Vilanova looked forward to more to come from Messi, who now has 74 goals in all competitions for Barcelona this year as well as 12 for Argentina, having played 66 games in all.
His La Liga tally is already up to 23 for this season alone.
"It seems impossible to score so many goals, let's hope he can add to the record in the games to come," said Vilanova.
"He is still young and gives us so much, even tonight he helped us out defensively when we needed it, he has so many more qualities than just his goals."
Barca's sporting director, Andoni Zubizarreta, was happy to sing Messi's praises.
"I think his records will be valued more in the future, it's one more for now but he makes it seem so easy it's hard to measure his talent," said Zubizarreta.
"It's a gift to see him play football but I think he'll say the same, it's a team game and he needs his team mates to help him."
Messi has made a habit of creating landmarks in his career.
Last season, he became the most successful scorer in a La Liga season by hitting 50 goals in the league campaign.
He is already the club's greatest scorer having last season gone past the record of 232 goals by Cesar Rodriguez set in the 1940s and 1950s.
He also equalled the record for goals scored in a Champions League season when he hit 14.
His history-making goals in Seville on Sunday came just days after he had been stretchered off with a knee injury in the Champions League clash against Benfica.
"On the stretcher, I thought the worst, of the pain torturing me, of being off the pitch for a long time," he admitted.
"Sincerely I thought it was the last ball that I would kick in a long time."
The Argentine star had insisted that breaking Mueller's record had never been his most pressing concern.
"Mueller's record isn't an obsession for me, but it would be good, because it's been there for a long time," he said in the run-up to Sunday's match.Lionel Messi factfile:
Birthdate: June 24, 1987 - age 25
Birthplace: Rosario, Argentina
Height: 1.69m (5ft 7in)
Club: Barcelona (ESP) since 2004
Major club honours: Three Champions Leagues, five league titles in Spain, two Spanish Cups, two Super Cups, two Club World Cups
International caps: 76 (31 goals)
International honours: Olympic gold medal (2008)
Individual honours: Three Ballons d'Or titles (2009, 2010, 2011)
The man nicknamed La Pulga (the flea) has terrorised defences in La Liga and scored around a goal a game over the past three seasons - most of them spectacular. On Sunday, in Seville, he broke the record of goals scored in a calendar year, his double at Real Betis putting his haul for 2012 onto 86, one more than the previous record set by German legend Gerd Mueller set in 1972.
Brilliant on the ball, sublime finisher and as good as unplayable when on top form - though that form can become submerged on occasion when he dons the colours of Argentina.
Set to become the first man ever to win the Ballon d'Or player of the year accolade four times.MESSI v MUELLER
- Of the 86 goals scored by Messi in 2012, 12 of them were for Argentina and 74 for his club. He has scored 56 in the Liga, 14 in the Champions League, three in the Copa del Rey and two in the Spanish Super Cup.
- Mueller set the record in 1972 by scoring 72 goals for Bayern Munich and 13 for Germany, he played a total of 60 matches that year. Messi broke the record at the age of 25; Mueller was 27 when he set the 85-goal record.