Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo, Pichichi polemic & the goals that weren't theirs

The Argentine's goal for Barcelona against Mallorca on Saturday was actually scored by Alexis, evoking memories of CR7's free kick effort versus Real Sociedad last season

By Ben Hayward | Spanish Football Editor

Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo are compared constantly. The Argentine and the Portuguese are currently the world's two finest footballers, undisputed leaders for perhaps the continent's best club sides and are record-breakers extraordinaires.

And what they do best, of course, is score goals ... all sorts of goals. From the sublime to the ridiculously easy, Messi and Ronaldo will find a way to get them into the back of the net. They even score goals that aren't theirs.

The advent of modern technology means every piece of action can now be studied, scrutinised, dissected and carefully examined. But even numerous replays proved inconclusive on Saturday as Barca went ahead and the question lingered, unanswered: Did Alexis Sanchez get a touch on Messi's curling free kick into the Mallorca box which surprised everyone and went in via the upright?

The Chilean looked to get the slightest of touches, but the trajectory of the ball remained unchanged and debates raged on social networking sites, and even among commentators. The referee gave the goal to Messi, his 55th of the season and 235th in Barcelona colours, but the above image shows that Alexis did indeed make contact, albeit only very slightly.

The goal took Messi to 35 in La Liga and the 24-year-old is now level with Cristiano, who subsequently struck twice for Madrid in the 5-1 win over Real Sociedad at the Santiago Bernabeu.

But, ironically, against the Basques last season, it was the Portuguese who benefitted from such a strike. The forward's free kick took a huge deflection off team-mate Pepe and looped into the back of the net. It was, according to Marca, Ronaldo's first league goal of the season. Not, however, according to the match referee, who awarded the goal to Pepe.

The Portuguese went on to win the Pichichi trophy and established a new mark of 40 goals in a single league campaign, although Marca, who award that particular prize, insisted the Madrid man had hit 41.

Now, with nine league games still to play, both Messi and Ronaldo look likely to surpass that total in 2011-12, but if the Argentine claims the trophy by a single goal or there is a tie, expect even more Clasico controversies and Pichichi polemic at the end of the current season.

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