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Originally published Saturday, April 14, 2012 at 4:55 PM

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Messi equals Ronaldo's record 41-goal mark

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.

AP Sports Writer

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MADRID —

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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Paul Logothetis can be reached at: http://www.twitter.com/PaulLogoAP

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