Messi claimed his 85th and 86th goals of 2012 in the opening 25 minutes against Betis as Barca stayed six points clear at the top of the standings.
Robin van Persie's stoppage-time free kick earned Manchester United a 3-2 win at champions Manchester City in a pulsating Premier League derby which put the winners six points clear at the top of the table.
Lionel Messi set a record for goals scored in a calendar year as unbeaten leaders Barcelona stayed six points clear of Atletico Madrid with a nervy 2-1 win at Real Betis on Sunday.
The Argentine World Player of the Year netted his 85th and 86th goals of 2012 in an entertaining game at the Benito Villamarin in Seville to overhaul the previous best of 85 set by German Gerd Mueller in 1972.
Messi's exploits overshadowed those of Atletico striker Radamel Falcao who put Deportivo Coruna to the sword with a five-goal haul in a crushing 6-0 home success that restored a five-point advantage over Real Madrid.
Jose Mourinho's Real side had to twice come from behind to scrape a 3-2 win at Real Valladolid on Saturday which closed the gap on Atletico, who they beat 2-0 at the Bernabeu last weekend.
Barca have won all 15 games this season apart from a 2-2 draw at home to Real in October and Messi's double put them on 43 points, with Atletico on 37 and Real on 32.
Manchester United moved six points clear of title rivals Manchester City after a 3-2 derby victory at the Etihad on Sunday in which Robin Van Persie scored a stoppage-time winner.
The Dutchman's free kick gave United the spoils after goals from Yaya Toure and Pablo Zabaleta appeared to have rescued a point for champions City following Wayne Rooney's first-half double.
United have 39 points from 16 games with City on 33.
Fernando Torres scored twice for Chelsea in a 3-1 win over Sunderland on Saturday, his first Premier League goals for more than 700 minutes setting up Rafa Benitez's first league win as interim manager.
Third-placed Chelsea have 29 points as they head off for the Club World Cup in Japan while Everton are fourth on 26 after two goals in stoppage time secured a 2-1 victory over Tottenham Hotspur.
Leaders Juventus won 1-0 at Palermo as coach Antonio Conte returned to the touchline following his four-month ban. Stephan Lichtsteiner scored the only goal early in the second half on a muddy pitch in Sicily.
Conte was suspended for failing to report a match-fixing attempt while he was coach of Siena in Serie B. Initially suspended for 10 months in August, his ban was reduced on appeal.
Juventus, who have won 12 of their 16 games, have 38 points, four ahead of Inter Milan who beat Napoli 2-1 at San Siro to leapfrog their opponents into second place thanks to first-half goals from Fredy Guarin and Diego Milito.
AC Milan's revival continued as they won their third game in a row, beating Torino 4-2 to climb to seventh.
Bayern Munich beat lowly Augsburg 2-0 to go 11 points clear at the top of the Bundesliga as their stellar form this season shows no signs of abating.
Goals from and Thomas Mueller and Mario Gomez sealed their 13th win in 16 matches with one left before the winter break.
Bayern Leverkusen failed to keep up, slumping to a 3-2 defeat at Hanover 96 to end their four-game winning streak and stay in second place on 30.
Champions Borussia Dortmund lost by the same score to visiting VfL Wolfsburg in a game marred by a refereeing controversy.
With the hosts leading 1-0, Dortmund defender Marcel Schmelzer was sent off with a straight red card for what the referee said at the time was a handball on the line but which he later admitted was wrong.
The decision cost Dortmund a player and earned Wolfsburg a penalty which Diego converted to turn the game on its head, leaving Dortmund 14 points behind Bayern and with any thoughts of a title defence quickly evaporating.
Olympique Lyon cemented their place at the top of the Ligue 1 standings when they snatched a 1-0 win at arch-rivals St Etienne courtesy of a second-half goal by Michel Bastos on Sunday.
Lyon, who had Mahamadou Dabo sent off for head-butting Gradel in the 55th minute, wrapped it up 10 minutes later when substitute Bastos found the back of the net with a powerful free kick.
Lyon have 34 points from 16 games and lead Paris St Germain, who thrashed Evian Thonon Gaillard 4-0 on Saturday, by five points.
Olympique Marseille are third, also five points off the pace, after losing 3-0 at home to Lorient after having Charles Kabore sent off in the first half.
PSV Eindhoven outclassed leaders Twente Enschede with a convincing 3-0 home win to move two points clear on top of the Dutch league as joint leaders Vitesse Arnhem dropped points.
Vitesse had won all seven away matches this season but suffered a 3-1 defeat at lowly VVV Venlo who came from behind.
Defending champions Ajax Amsterdam registered their fifth successive win by beating Groningen 2-0 to stay three points adrift of the leaders.
(Editing by Ed Osmond)
- Sports & Recreation
- Manchester City
- Lionel Messi
- Manchester United