Lionel Messi rounded off a magical year on the pitch as he added to his record tally with his 91st goal of 2012 in Barcelona’s 3-1 win over Vallaolid last night.
The Argentinian surpassed Gerd Muller’s long-standing record of 85 goals in a single calendar year earlier this month with a brace against Real Betis, and finished with a goal in Barcelona’s final game of 2012 which helped the Catalan club re-establish their nine point lead at the top of the table following Atletico Madrid’s win over Celta Vigo on Friday.
His strike, a typically brilliant solo run and delightful finish, means the 25-year-old finishes the year with 91 goals and 24 assists in 69 games.
While Messi was toasting ending a wildly successful year in style, the Argentinian forward and his team-mates dedicated the win to Barcelona manager Tito Vilanova, who was forced to temporarily hand of the reins at the Nou Camp this week after he underwent surgery to remove a tumour in his throat.
Vilanova, who took time away from the game last year with the illness, will now undergo a course of chemotherapy and could make a return to the game in as soon as six weeks, something full-back Dani Alves described as a “surprise and a joy”.
This win is for Tito,' he said.
'It's a surprise and joy that he is home now. We are here to help him any way he can. Football is secondary now, he is fighting for his life.'
Both Barcelona and Vallaloid also wore t-shirts bearing Vilanova’s face and the word ‘courage’ before the game.
The comfortable victory at the José Zorrilla stadium, in which Xavi and Christian Tello also got on the scoresheet, not only extends Barcelona’s record unbeaten start to the 2012/13 season but also means they now sit 16 points ahead of rivals and defending champions Real Madrid.
Madrid stumbled to a 3-2 defeat against Malaga, with coach Jose Mourinho taking the controversial decision to drop regular goalkeeper Iker Casillas for the game.
Check out all 91 of Messi's goals in 2012 below!