European soccer roundup - Record for Barca, United go clear

Mon Dec 3, 2012 8:54am IST

Barcelona's Lionel Messi celebrates his second goal with team mates against Athletic Bilbao during their Spanish first division soccer match at Nou Camp stadium in Barcelona December 1, 2012. REUTERS/Gustau Nacarino

Barcelona's Lionel Messi celebrates his second goal with team mates against Athletic Bilbao during their Spanish first division soccer match at Nou Camp stadium in Barcelona December 1, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Gustau Nacarino

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(Reuters) - Two goals by the dynamic Lionel Messi helped La Liga leaders Barcelona maintain their flying start to the season with a 5-1 destruction of Athletic Bilbao.

In England, Manchester United charged three points clear of second-placed Manchester City with a thrilling 4-3 win at Reading while their neighbours were held 1-1 by Everton.

SPAIN

Leaders Barcelona created a new record for the best start to a La Liga season, thrashing Athletic Bilbao 5-1 to notch 40 points from 14 games.

Barca, under new coach Tito Vilanova, have won 13 matches and drawn one which beats the previous best by Real Madrid in 1961-62 of 13 wins and a defeat.

Lionel Messi scored twice to move within one goal of former Germany and Bayern Munich striker Gerd Mueller's record of 85 goals in a calendar year. Gerard Pique, Cesc Fabregas and Adriano netted the others.

Second-placed Atletico Madrid slipped six points behind Barca after losing 2-0 to Real Madrid in the city derby at the Bernabeu.

A trademark fizzing free kick saw Cristiano Ronaldo open the scoring for Real and he set up Mesut Ozil for the second to leave Jose Mourinho's champions third on 29 points.

ENGLAND

Manchester United moved three points clear at the top of the Premier League after an extraordinary 4-3 win at struggling Reading while champions Manchester City were held to a 1-1 home draw by Everton.

All seven goals at Reading came in 34 first-half minutes as Wayne Rooney struck twice and Robin van Persie also found the net to give United victory despite some inept defending.

City needed a 43rd-minute Carlos Tevez penalty to salvage a draw with Everton who had taken the lead through Marouane Fellaini.

Chelsea interim manager Rafael Benitez saw his side go ahead at West Ham United through Juan Mata before the home side hit back with three second-half goals to win 3-1.

Arsenal slumped to 10th in the table following a 2-0 home loss to Swansea City.

United top the table on 36 points going into next weekend's Manchester derby at City who are second on 33.

Chelsea are third, level on 26 points with Tottenham Hotspur and surprise packages West Bromwich Albion.

GERMANY

Bayern Munich's Bundesliga lead was cut to eight points after they were held 1-1 at home by champions Borussia Dortmund, the sixth game in a row the Bavarians have failed to beat their rivals.

Toni Kroos drilled home the opening goal for Bayern on 67 minutes and Mario Goetze levelled seven minutes later before Dortmund keeper Roman Weidenfeller pulled off a string of saves late in the game to rescue a point for the visitors.

Bayer Leverkusen tightened their hold on second place with Stefan Kiessling's ninth league goal of the season giving them a 1-0 victory over Nuremberg for their sixth win in seven games.

Leverkusen are second on 30 points with Dortmund in third place on 27, two points better off than Schalke in fourth who drew 1-1 against Borussia Moenchengladbach.

FRANCE

Zlatan Ibrahimovic scored his 13th goal in 12 Ligue 1 appearances but could not prevent Paris St Germain losing 2-1 at mid-table Nice, their third defeat in the last five league games.

PSG are fourth on 26 points, five behind leaders Olympique Lyon who won 1-0 at home to champions Montpellier thanks to Bafetimbi Gomis's 10th league goal of the season and his fourth in less than a week.

Olympique Marseille, crushed 4-1 by Lyon earlier in the week with Gomis hitting a hat-trick, bounced back to win 2-1 at Stade Brest and climb to second on 29 points.

On-loan Englishman Joey Barton, who has started all three league matches since his 12-game ban ended, delivered his best performance so far for Marseille, setting up both goals.

St Etienne are third, tied on 26 points with PSG but ahead on goal difference, after a goalless draw at lowly Ajaccio.

ITALY

Contrasting wins for Napoli and Inter Milan kept them hard on the heels of leaders Juventus in Serie A but Fiorentina lost ground after being held at home by improving Sampdoria.

Napoli had a thumping 5-1 win over bottom club Pescara but Inter scraped an unconvincing 1-0 victory at home to Palermo.

Two goals each by Gokhan Inler and Edinson Cavani, one from the penalty spot, helped Walter Mazzarri's Napoli side stay two points behind Juve who defeated local rivals Torino 3-0 thanks to a double by Claudio Marchisio and another goal from Sebastian Giovinco.

Inter are four points behind Juve on 31 after ending a run of three games without a win thanks to an own goal by Palermo's Santiago Garcia.

Stefan Savic scored both goals for fourth-placed Fiorentina in a 2-2 draw after Nenad Krsticic and a Gonzalo Rodriguez own goal had seen Sampdoria equalise and then take the lead. (Editing by Tony Goodson)

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