Ronaldo and Messi keep up scoring bonanza to break record
BARCELONA warmed up for Wednesday's Champions League showdown against Chelsea with a win over Levante, but Real Madrid's win over Sporting Gijon means La Liga is as you were going into next weekend's potentially decisive El Clasico.
Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi scored their Spanish league record 41st goals of the season in results that maintained the four-point gap between the rivals before their crunch match next week.
Ronaldo headed home Angel di Maria's short cross in the 74th minute, surpassing his own mark from last season in Madrid's 3-1 victory over Sporting.
And, nearly two hours later, Messi scored an equaliser and then a 72nd-minute penalty to lift Barcelona to a 2-1 victory at Levante, their11th straight win.
Messi's 63 goals in all competitions is the most in European play since Bayern Munich's Gerd Muller scored 67 during the 1972-73 season. Ronaldo's 53rd goal overall also helped lift Madrid's total goal tally for the season reaching 107, matching the mark for most goals in a season set by the Spanish giant in 1989-90.
Messi and Ronaldo's feats set the stage for a captivating game at the Camp Nou, which could prove crucial in the league with only four games remaining after that.
Messi matched former Brazil striker Ronaldo and Mariano Martin's record run of scoring in 10 straight league games.
Barcelona went behind in the 23rd minute as Jose Barkero stepped up to score from a penalty after Barcelona midfielder Sergio Busquets handled inside the area.
But the champions responded when Messi capped a neat exchange with Alexis Sanchez by curling the 64th-minute equaliser around goalkeeper Gustavo Munua. After wasting a free-kick opportunity, Messi made no mistake with his spot-kick, which was earned after Juanfran Garcia barged into Isaac Cuenca inside the area.
A period of silence was observed at both Saturday's games in honour of Livorno midfielder Piermario Morosini, who died age 25 after suffering cardiac arrest and collapsing on the pitch during his team's Serie B match at Pescara earlier. All Italian league games were called off as a result of the tragedy.