Messi hits brace, pressure mounts on Bielsa
MADRID (AFP) –
Lionel Messi extended his record for goals scored in a year on Wednesday as the Argentinian maestro scored both Barcelona’s goals in their 2-0 win away at Cordoba in their Spanish Cup Last 16 first leg clash.
The 25-year-old three-time Ballon D’Or winner struck in the 11th minute, after being set up by David Villa, and then in the 74th when he ran onto an Alexis Sanchez pass to score to give the holders a handy advantage to take back to the Camp Nou for the second leg in January.
The brace took him to 88 for the year, three more than German legend Gerd Mueller, although earlier on Wednesday Brazilian side Flamengo suddenly piped up to claim that Zico should be the holder with 89 goals in 1979.
Real’s evening had got off to a bad start when French international striker Karim Benzema had to go off in the 31st minute with what looked like a twisted ankle.
While Messi can do no wrong, his compatriot Marcelo Bielsa can do little right as his Athletic Bilbao side exited the competition at the hands of third division Eibar in their delayed last 32 second-leg match.
Bilbao went out on the away goals rule as last season’s finalists were held 1-1 at home by their modest opposition.
It is a far cry from last season when Bielsa – a former Argentina national coach who guided the Argentinians to the 2004 Olympic title – received great praise for the stylish football his young side played and which saw them also reach the Europa League final.
Eibar’s reward is a last 16 clash with Malaga with the first leg next Wednesday.