MADRID (AP) — Barcelona forward Lionel Messi scored a penalty against Levante on Saturday to match Cristiano Ronaldo's Spanish league record 41 goals in a season, set less than two hours earlier.
Messi converted the 72nd-minute spot kick to give Barcelona a 2-1 victory and equal rival Ronaldo, who set the record with a 74th-minute header in Real Madrid's 3-1 victory over Sporting Gijon.
Messi trailed Ronaldo by two goals going into the match and curled home a 64th-minute equalizer to close the gap to one.
Madrid maintained its four point lead over three-time defending champion Barcelona before next Saturday's "Clasico" match between the bitter rivals, which could prove crucial in the title race with only four more games remaining after that.
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