Messi's five best in 2012
Lionel Messi, who won an historic fourth consecutive Ballon d'Or award early yesterday, created another piece of history in his already decorated career in 2012 by passing Gerd Muller's record of 85 goals in a calendar year, set in 1972.
He ultimately finished the year with an incredible 91 goals, and PA Sport looks at five of the best.
1 vs Brazil (June 9) Messi’s hat-trick secured a stunning 4-3 win for Argentina and his third was arguably his best of 2012. Picking up the ball on the right, he cut inside and skipped past many Brazilians before curling an unstoppable strike from the D’s edge into the top corner.
2 vs Real Madrid (August 29) A stunning free-kick from 30 yards had more curve on it than a banana — but it proved not enough for Barcelona as Real Madrid went on to take the Super Cup.
3 vs B Leverkusen (March 7) His fifth goal in the 7-1 trouncing was trademark Messi — a neat interchange followed by him sending a low left-footed shot past Bernd Leno from the edge of the area. It was a landmark moment — the first time a player had scored five goals in the Champions League.
4 vs Atletico Madrid (February 26) From a position wide on the left of the penalty area, Messi took a free-kick that Atletico expected to be crossed into the box — instead he floated the ball over the keeper, dipping it under the crossbar.
5 vs Sevilla (March 17) The little forward ran on to a through-ball from Andres Iniesta, neatly nutmegged a defender and then dinked a lovely chip over keeper Andres Palop and into the far corner.