MADRID (Reuters) - While Barcelona forward Lionel Messi was busy breaking the all-time La Liga scoring record on Saturday, Cristiano Ronaldo took a step closer to smashing the best for a single season of 50 goals also held by his Argentine rival.
Ronaldo struck twice in a 4-0 win for leaders Real Madrid at Eibar and the Portugal forward has now scored an incredible 20 goals in 11 appearances in Spain’s top flight this term.
If the World Player of the Year continues at his current pace, his tally for the season will be more than 60, comfortably surpassing Messi’s record set in 2011-12.
The 29-year-old Ronaldo, who missed Real’s defeat at Real Sociedad in August due to injury, is the first player to reach 20 goals in the opening 12 rounds of La Liga.
“A lot of people are envious about what he has achieved and about what he can accomplish,” Real’s Brazil fullback Marcelo told reporters.
“Cristiano always works hard, he’s a top professional with a huge desire to learn and help the team.”
Since he joined Real from Manchester United in 2009, Ronaldo has netted 197 La Liga goals, while Messi’s record set on Saturday with a hat-trick against Sevilla is 253.
Real’s victory at tiny Eibar, who are appearing in Spain’s top flight for the first time, maintained their two-point lead over second-placed Barca at the top.
The European champions are next in action on Wednesday when they play at FC Basel in the Champions League having already qualified for the last 16.
Ronaldo has scored 70 goals in Europe’s elite club competition, one fewer than Messi and former Real and Schalke 04 forward Raul.
Reporting by Iain Rogers, editing by Sudipto Ganguly