Cristiano Ronaldo, Messi reach record 41-goal mark
MADRID - Agence France-Presse
Real star Cristiano Ronaldo (R) held the La Liga goal record for a few hours before Barcelona ace Messi joined him. AP photoCristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi took their La Liga goals tally this season to a record-breaking 41 each on April 14.
First, Ronaldo broke his own mark of last season by scoring in the 3-1 come-from-behind victory over Sporting Gijon.
Later Saturday, Messi grabbed a brace as Barcelona also hit back from a goal down to defeat Levante 2-1 as the champions stayed four points behind Real with the mouthwatering, season-defining El Clasico to come next weekend.
On a night of landmarks, Real’s third goal was their 107th of La Liga this season.
It puts them level with John Toshack’s Real Madrid team of the 1989-90 season with Jose Mourinho’s side still with five matches to play.
“The records come as a result of the work of all the players who have given so much and deserve to be champions,” said Real assistant coach Aitor Karanka. “For those who say that Jose Mourinho is a defensive coach then you just need to look at these statistics.”
A Sergio Ramos handball had seen Miguel Angel De las Cuevas put Sporting ahead from the penalty spot after half an hour before Gonzalo Higuain equalised with a header after 36 minutes.
Ronaldo finally broke Sporting’s resistance with a header after 73 minutes and, following the dismissal of Roberto Canella for a second yellow card, Karim Benzema hit the third.
Later, Levante went ahead against Barcelona from a 23rd-minute penalty converted by Jose Barkero.
But Messi then hit a second half brace with his second goal, from the penalty spot after a foul by Pedro Botelho on Juan Cuenca, drawing him level with his great Portuguese rival Ronaldo on 41 league goals.
“This result is important in lifting us for the upcoming match in London and then the Madrid game,” said Barca coach Pep Guardiola with his side facing Chelsea in the Champions League semifinal on April 18.
“Now we are going to think about the Chelsea match and then Madrid which will be a very hard game.
“We have won the last three titles but if they win this time then that will be that.”