The Straits Times
www.straitstimes.com
Published on Nov 18, 2012
 

Messi double as Barca make record start to season

 
 

MADRID (AFP) - Lionel Messi continued his prolific scoring with a brace as Barcelona beat Zaragoza 3-1 to make the best ever start to a Liga season.

There were doubts that Tito Vilanova could take on the mantle left by Pep Guardiola this summer but he has proved himself in emphatic fashion with the team notching up eleven wins and a draw so far that leaves them six points clear at the top and eleven ahead of bitter rivals Real Madrid, who play Athletic Bilbao later.

Messi opened the scoring but while Francisco Montanes brought Zaragoza level, Alex Song restored the advantage before the break. Messi got his second and his 17th of the season to ensure a victory and another record with Barca's start beating those of Real Madrid in the 1968-69 and the 1991-92 seasons.

Barca had their preferred centre-half pairing of Gerard Pique and Carles Puyol available for the first time since mid-September due to injuries and Song was chosen ahead of Javier Mascherano to play the defensive midfield role with Sergio Busquets suspended.