Magical Messi shows no sign of stopping

Story highlights

  • Lionel Messi scores twice in Barcelona's 3-1 win over Rayo Vallecano
  • Argentina star has now scored in 18 consecutive league games
  • Chelsea move third in EPL as Tottenham slips up
  • Napoli keeps pressure on Serie A leader Juventus

Records are there to be broken -- but how many more records can one man break?

Lionel Messi extended his goalscoring run in La Liga to 18 consecutive matches after scoring twice in Barcelona's 3-1 win over Rayo Vallecano Sunday.

Messi, the four-time World Player of the Year, scored an unparalleled 91 goals for club and country in 2012, surpassing the previous record of 85 set by Germany's Gerd Muller in 1972.

The 25-year-old, who reportedly earns $14.75 million a year, looked an absolute bargain as he helped Barcelona restore its 13-point cushion at the top of the table.

Read: Messi's left foot -- yours for $5.25 million

Messi has already scored 55 goals for Barcelona so far this season, 42 of those in La Liga with 13 in other competitions.

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Becker: Ronaldo the tennis ace?


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CNN FC: English clubs in crisis?


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Is there a crisis in English football?


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An incredible 29 goals have come in his past 18 league games -- a streak which has seen any suggestion of a slump consigned to the garbage.

Consecutive defeats to arch rival Real Madrid and the Champions League first leg defeat in Milan had left question marks over Barcelona's form.

But the 4-0 thrashing of Milan last week proved Barca means business and it could have had five or six against Rayo had it moved out of second gear.

Read: Messi passes another milestone

With coach Tito Vilanova expected to be back in the dug-out for the next game against Celta Vigo following cancer treatment, Barcelona looks in great shape to wrestle the league title back from Real Madrid.

Elsewhere in La Liga, Atletico Madrid kept up the pressure on second place Real with a 2-0 win at Osasuna courtesy of Diego Costa's double.

There was a shock defeat for Champions League quarterfinalist Malaga, which was beaten 2-0 at home by Espanyol, while Sevilla strolled to a 4-0 win over Real Zaragoza.

Read: Beckham shows he can still cut it

David Beckham returned to the scene of his infamous red card in the 1998 World Cup as his Paris Saint-Germain side was held to a 2-2 draw at Saint-Etienne.

Beckham was sent off during England's last-16 tie with Argentina after kicking out at Diego Simeone -- an incident which led to him being vilified following the team's exit on penalties.

Didi Hamann on beating AC Milan
Didi Hamann on beating AC Milan


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CNN Football Club: Nani's controversial red
CNN Football Club: Nani's controversial red


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But it was a less eventful evening for Beckham on this occasion, although he did come close to winning the tie late on with one of his trademark free kicks.

PSG had moved into a two-goal lead thanks to strikes from Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Javier Pastore.

But the home side rallied and an own-goal from Alex halved the deficit before Francois Clerc grabbed an equalizer.

The result leaves PSG five points clear of nearest challenge Lyon at the top of Ligue 1.

Read: Chelsea into Europa League last eight

In the English Premier League, Chelsea moved into third place following a 2-0 win over West Ham at Stamford Bridge.

Frank Lampard's 200th goal for the club and an Eden Hazard effort sealed the points for Rafa Benitez's side.

Chelsea's win took it above Tottenham, which suffered an embarrassing 1-0 home defeat by Fulham.

Managed by former Spurs boss Martin Jol, it was another former employee who did the damage with Dimitar Berbatov scoring Fulham's winner.

Read: 'Mind the gap'

Wigan kept its hope of survival alive with a late 2-1 win over Newcastle in a game which was marred by an awful tackle by Callum McManaman on visiting defender Massadio Haidara.

Haidara was taken off on a stretcher to hospital with suspected ligament damage, while McManaman escaped any disciplinary action from referee Mark Halsey.

"It is an awful challenge. The pictures speak for themselves," Newcastle manager Alan Pardew told reporters.

"I thought it was a bad challenge and I was 60 yards from the incident. The players knew because they were on top of it and there was a lot of bad feeling about that incident when it goes unpunished."

Elsewhere, Norwich was held to a 1-1 draw at Sunderland.

Read: Inter hit with fine for racial abuse of former striker Balotelli

In Italy, Edinson Cavani's double took Napoli to within nine points of Serie A leader Juventus.

With nine games of the season remaining, Walter Mazzari's side could ill-afford any further slip-ups and had to be at its best to see off Atalanta 3-2.

"I'm happy for Cavani and for (Goran) Pandev after their goals but also for securing the three points," Mazzarri told reporters.

"It remained close right up to the end and it was an edgy finish."

Mario Balotelli scored twice in Milan's 2-0 win over Palermo, while Inter's game at Sampdoria was postponed because of heavy snow and rain.

Francesco Totti scored his 226th Serie A goal as Roma moved up to sixth after a 2-0 win over Parma.

But Lazio suffered a 1-0 defeat in Turin as a late goal by Jonathas secured victory for Torino.

In Germany, Eintracht Frankfurt suffered a 2-1 home defeat by Stuttgart, while Borussia Moenchengladbach defeated 10-man Hanover 1-0.

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