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Messi’s Double Keeps Barcelona Atop La Liga

Two goals from Lionel Messi helped Barcelona make it ten wins from 11 Liga games this season, as they beat Mallorca 4-2, while second-placed Atlético Madrid also won.

Xavi Hernández put Barca ahead after 28 minutes and Messi doubled their lead close to half-time, scoring his 75th goal for club and country in 2012. That equaled Pelé’s tally in 1958. Cristian Tello grabbed Barça’s third seconds later, and after Michael Pereira and Victor Casadesus reduced the deficit for Mallorca, Messi moved ahead of Pelé’s haul with his second of the game. He now lies nine goals shy of Gerd Müller’s record from 1972.

Atlético Madrid kept themselves three points behind the leaders by beating Getafe 2-0 behind goals from Adrián López and Arda Turan.

Meanwhile, Real Madrid remain five points further back after

Young substitute Alvaro Morata earned Real Madrid a near-farcical 2-1 win over Levante at a waterlogged Estadi Ciutat de Valencia. The match was played in almost unplayable conditions, with the ball barely bouncing or rolling on the waterlogged pitch.

Cristiano Ronaldo fired Real into a first-half lead but Angel Rodriguez, on as a substitute early in the second half, equalised in the 62nd minute. Xabi Alonso missed a penalty but then delivered the free-kick for Morata, who had only been on the pitch for two minutes after replacing Mesut Ozil, to head the winner.

Eighth-placed Real Valladolid kept themselves one spot above Valencia courtesy of a 1-1 draw at home against Los Che. Víctor Pérez Alonso hit a second-half penalty for the hosts after Aly Cissokho, who scored Valencia’s opener, was sent off for impeding Omar Ramos.

Also on Sunday, ten-man Athletic Bilbao got back to their winning ways as they defeated Sevilla 2-1.