LIONEL Messi struck twice in Barcelona’s 4-2 win over Mallorca, taking him to 72 goals for the calendar year, one better than Pele’s mark.
Xavi Hernandez, Messi and Cristian Tello got first-half goals for the Catalans before Victor Casadesus and Michael Pereira reduced the lead after the interval.
Messi then hit his fifteenth in the league to wrap up the game and make it 76 goals now in 2012, beating Pele’s tally of 75 from 1958 and taking him to within nine of Gerd Muller’s all time record total of 85 set in 1972.
The win increases Barca’s lead to six points at the top, ahead of games for Atletico and Real Madrid, who sit 2nd and 3rd, later on Sunday.
Barca made five changes from the side that had lost 2-1 to Celtic in the Champions League on Wednesday, with Gerard Pique, Cesc Fabregas, Sergio Busquets, David Villa and Tello all starting.
The visitors began slowly and Mallorca enjoyed the better early chances.
Barca keeper Valdes was alert to tip wide a header from Israeli international Tomer Hemed on 22 minutes.
However, five minutes later Barca were ahead when Xavi curled a perfect free-kick over the defensive wall after Jose Luis Marti fouled Fabregas on the left edge of the area.
Mallorca centre-half Pedro Geromel saved an almost certain second on 34 minutes when a Tello cross was about to find Villa in front of an open goal.
Barca were now on top and looking to add to their lead and did so on 43 minutes when Messi went on a run and hit a well struck shot – though Dudu Aouate in the Mallorca goal should have done better than allow the ball to squirm out of his hands and into the net.
A minute later and Tello controlled a pass on the left-wing before cutting inside and unleashing a right-footed drive that went across Aouate and into the far corner.