Messi beats Muller's 40-year goal record

Lionel Messi needed just 25 minutes to dispel any doubts that he would break Gerd Muller's longstanding world record of 85 goals in a calendar year on Sunday.

Having made a quick recovery from the midweek injury that threatened to curtail his bid, the Barcelona soccer star drew level with the German after 16 minutes of the Spanish league match against Real Betis.

A mere nine minutes later, the 25-year-old added another accolade to his collection as he put Barcelona 2-0 ahead to surpass Muller's 1972 milestone with a possible three more matches to play in 2012,according to CNN.

Fifth-placed Betis hit back before halftime through Ruben Castro, but could not prevent unbeaten league leaders Barcelona from registering a 14th win from 15 matches to extend the club's record start to the season.

"I've said it a lot -- it's nice to beat records but the win for the team is what is important and the points difference at the top," Messi told reporters after Barca retained a six-point lead over second-placed Atletico Madrid.

Messi's next challenge is to become the first man to win the world player of the year award four times, as he heads the shortlist for January's ceremony along with clubmate Andres Iniesta and Real Madrid's Cristiano Ronaldo.

"If Iniesta wins, it will be well-deserved for all that he has done, for the way he plays. Again, it will also be a prize for the dressing room," Messi said of the Spain midfielder, who beat him to last season's top European award.

He is already Barcelona's alltime leading scorer, having in March surpassed the 232 goal mark set by Cesar Rodriguez in the 1950s.

Last season he scored a record 50 goals in La Liga, and he already has 23 this term. Of his 86 for 2012, 74 have been for Barcelona and 12 for his country.

The world has yet to see the best of Messi on the international stage, as he has yet to win a senior title with Argentina -- and that is the challenge he next faces if is to be known as a true great, according to British football journalist Henry Winter.

"Pele did it for Brazil and Maradona for Argentina. In the 2014 World Cup on Brazilian soil it'll be wonderful to see Messi show the world what a special, special player he is," Winter told CNN on Sunday.

Messi vs. Muller: The goal kings

"They say top players hit their peak at 27 or 28 when they have the maturity and the game craft and still the athleticism of youth. I think we'll see a player like Messi who's very humble, very grounded, continuing to work and develop with the great Barcelona players he's got around him, like Xavi and Iniesta.


U-16 National Judo Team Excel In Lebanon

 The U-16 national judo team have clinched the West Asia Championship title which was staged in Beirut,Lebanon.

The Syrian team grabbed seven varied medals(4 gold,1 silver,2 bronze).

The athletes who won gold were:Fares Badawi,Ahmad Raad,Sibai Haj and Mohammad Ghasan Siba while Ahmad Bayer managed to get a silver medal in his category.

Talal Kaseeh and Abdul Salam Haj Qadour  took one bronze medal each.

It is worth noting that scores of judo players from nine countries took part in the said event.


Torres nets brace as Chelsea see off Sunderland in Premier League


Rafa Benitez had insisted ahead of kick-off that he had not given up hope of winning the Premier League title and his players responded with a stylish performance as the Blues closed the gap on second-placed Manchester City to four points.

Torres was the star of the show with two goals in the first half, while Juan Mata added a third early in the second half and Adam Johnson's fantastic strike proved to be little more than a consolation for a Sunderland side now in the relegation zone.

Best of the Match:

 Man of the match: Fernando Torres. An excellent early goal lifted Torres' confidence and he calmly added a second from the penalty spot, before playing a crucial role in setting up the third as he shot against the crossbar.

 Goal of the match: Chelsea broke the deadlock thanks to a flowing move as Eden Hazard latched on to a Victor Moses pass and delivered a clever cross for Torres to turn home in style.

Save of the match: Petr Cech pulled off a few excellent saves, including a tremendous late effort when he dived away to turn Connor Wickham's low shot round the post.

 Moment of the match: Torres letting David Luiz know that he wanted to take the penalty summed up his confidence, and he made no mistake as Chelsea took a commanding two-goal lead on the stroke of half-time.

Talking point: Is Fernando Torres on his way back to top form? Can Martin O'Neill lead Sunderland away from relegation trouble?

Chelsea were quickly into their stride and Eden Hazard had a confident penalty appeal waved away before Torres expertly turned home the Belgian's cross with a well-controlled first-time volley after a flowing move in the 11th minute.

Oriol Romeu soon had to go off through injury and Sunderland started to gain a foothold in the match, with Stephane Sessegnon's ferocious long-range effort stinging the palms of Petr Cech and Craig Gardner also lashing an effort wide.

With Gardner and Johnson starting to make an impression, the Blues were forced on to the back foot at times and, although they tried to hit their hosts on the counter, O'Neill's men were beginning to dominate.

However, disaster struck deep into injury time when Sweden international Sebastian Larsson needlessly brought down Ramires in the area and Torres stepped up to stroke home the penalty.

Any hopes of a fightback were dashed within four minutes of the restart when Phil Bardsley miscontrolled a cross and the ball ran to Torres, who was denied a hat-trick by the crossbar.

Sadly for Sunderland, the rebound dropped invitingly for Mata to make it 3-0 and wrap up the victory with 41 minutes still to play.

It could have been four three minutes later when Mata rolled the ball into the path of Moses, who drilled a right-foot effort wide of the far post.

Sunderland responded and England international Johnson embarrassed keeper Cech with a 66th-minute shot he really should have repelled.

Cech had to produce a number of other saves as the Black Cats tried to get back into the game, while Gardner hit the bar at the death.

However, as a crowd of 39,273 left the Stadium of Light, it was those heading south who were wearing the smiles, leaving those closer to home to contemplate a run which now extends to just two Premier League victories in 23 attempts.

Michael Owen blames Liverpool for his injury strewn career

  Michael Owen has echoed former manager Alex Ferguson's opinion by blaming Liverpool for his injury ravaged career.

The former England international reckons he was overused as a youngster at Anfield where he would play '80-odd games a year'.

Owen made his Liverpool debut as a 17-year-old but wishes he could have played less games after seeing Ferguson's cotton-wool treatment of youngsters coming through at Old Trafford.

The Manchester United boss has suggested that Owen could have remained injury free had he been handled better in his youth.

"Sir Alex had made some comments suggesting that I would have been a better player had I been managed more effectively in the early part of my career," said Owen on his official website.

"I have to agree with most of what he said except the usage of the word 'better'. In my opinion, had I been managed differently I would have been at my best for longer as opposed to being a better player.

"As a youngster, I was considered exceptional and in many ways, that was to my detriment. While I was playing every game available to me, there was another young kid in the Liverpool academy called Steven Gerrard who was also showing huge potential.

"Unlike me, who was playing 80-odd games a year, Stevie just couldn't stay fit. I am convinced that this played to his advantage in the long run. I couldn't get enough of it. I would play a full season with Liverpool and then once the season was over, while everyone wrapped their best youngsters up to have a summer break, I was jetting off to play for England, sometimes playing three years above my age group at the highest level. This continued for a few years. I played week in, week out without a break, for years."

Tony Pulis manager of Stoke City talks to substitute Michael Owen Potty: Owen hasn't been able to nail a regular place at Stoke

The 32-year-old also feels his worst hamstring injury, suffered against Leeds United in 1999, was not treated properly and deprived him of a longer career at the top of his game.

"My body made me pay for pushing it to the limit too often," he explained. "My hamstring snapped in two and it was at that point that my ability to perform unimpeded was finished. It didn't have to be that way. My rehabilitation was compromised due to our physio leaving the club that summer and not being replaced until the following season and with no regular medical care during such a critical time, a routine injury was destined to restrict me for the rest of my career.

"It is due to this factor (confirmed by many medical experts), that I have suffered multiple injuries since. People laugh when I say that I am not naturally injury prone. It is my genuine opinion that I have become injury prone due to overplaying at a young age, suffering an injury as a result and then having a dreadful rehabilitation at such a critical time."

Bench warmer: Owen spent most of his time at United as an unused substitute

Owen played 316 games for club and country ahead of his 24th birthday. In comparison Ryan Giggs (112), Paul Scholes (123) and David Beckham (184) were handled with care by Ferguson.

"I certainly feel I played 'Too Much Too Soon' [the name of Owen's blog]. I cringe when I look back on a quote I came out with after Gerard Houllier 'rested' me for a game. 'I will rest when I'm 40' I muttered in an interview," he added.

"How wrong could I be? You can't force nature and nature has certainly forced me to "rest" far more than I would have wanted in the second half of my career. Looking back on my career thinking what might have been there is no doubt I would have won more honours had I signed for Manchester United as a youngster.

Source :Daily Mirror


Sir Alex Ferguson targets derby victory over Manchester City

Sir Alex Ferguson says victory against Manchester City on Sunday would be one of his side's "best-ever results".

Premier League leaders Manchester United travel to the Etihad Stadium three points clear of champions City, whose European adventure ended in midweek after finishing bottom of their UEFA Champions' League group.

Ferguson also expressed concern over his fragile defence and challenged his side to learn from their error-strewn display at Reading last weekend.

"If we win it will be one of our best-ever results," Ferguson told MUTV.

"They are a really good, powerful team with massive players.

"It won't be easy and if we defend like we did at Reading we'll be in trouble.

"The important thing for us is to take lessons from the mistakes we're making and do something about it. We need to find a solution."

"If we win it will be one of our best-ever results."
Sir Alex Ferguson Quotes of the week

With Chelsea and Arsenal sliding off the pace in recent weeks, there have been suggestions it could turn out to be straight battle between the two Manchester clubs this season.

But Ferguson, who has a fitness doubt over Tom Cleverley, is not buying into that assessment.

"At this time in the season you can't really say it's a two-horse race," he said.

"If you think back we were 12 points behind Chelsea at one point and when Arsenal beat us in the league in 1998 we were 11 points clear."