Messi breaks the record
Lionel Messi wrote his name into the history books as he scored his 85th and 86th goals in 2012 to break Gerd Muller's record of most goals in a calendar year.
Messi scored twice inside the opening 25 minutes to help Barcelona to a 2-1 victory at Real Betis on Sunday, and in the process moved clear of Muller, who scored 85 goals during 1972.
Ruben Castro pulled a goal back six minutes before the break as the hosts threatened to steal the headlines, but Barca held on for a victory that restores their 11-point lead over Real Madrid.
There was some bad news for Barca, though, as midfielder Cesc Fabregas has been ruled out for up to four weeks with a thigh injury suffered in the early stages of the game.
Radamel Falcao gave another demonstration of his predatory instincts with a five-goal haul as Atletico Madrid crushed hapless Deportivo La Coruna 6-1.
Diego Costa headed the hosts in front midway through the first half but thereafter it was a one-man show as Falcao stroked home the second moments later before volleying in a wonderful third just before the break.
The flow of goals for the Colombian continued after half-time as he slotted home a penalty and two more from close range to take his tally for the season to 19. Atletico are six points behind leaders Barcelona.
Aritz Aduriz's first-half header earned struggling Athletic Bilbao their first win in four games - 1-0 over Celta Vigo - to lift them away from the relegation zone.
The striker converted Ibai Gomez's cross for his 12th goal in all competitions this season to give the home side some welcome relief, their last three games having yielded just a single point sandwiched between 5-1 defeats to Real Madrid and Barcelona.
Real Mallorca's winless streak in all competitions stretched to 12 games as four goals in a 16-minute period either side of half-time saw Levante romp to a 4-0 victory at the Ciutat de Valencia.
Obafemi Martins got the ball rolling three minutes before the interval as he successfully battled with Pedro Geromel for a long ball over the top before slotting past Dudu Aouate for his sixth goal of the season.
The game was well and truly over within 13 minutes of the restart as David Navarro headed home at the back post from a corner before Ruben Garcia and Vicente Iborra also got on the scoresheet after being set-up brilliantly by Martins.
Information from Press Association was used in this report.