By HAROLD HECKLE
2012-12-13 06:58 AM
Having broken German great Gerd Mueller's 40-year-old record for most goals in a year on Sunday, Messi added to his tally in the 11th minute by tapping into an empty net from David Villa's pass.
"Messi is extraordinary," Barcelona defender Dani Alves said. "In every age there is always a player that stands out, and right now he is the reference point, just like Pele and Maradona were in their time."
Pedro Rodriguez controlled the ball in midfield and delivered a perfectly weighted long pass to the flank for Villa to cross. As goalkeeper Mikel Saizar fell to the ground, Messi tapped the ball in off the underside of the crossbar.
Messi received a cross from Alexis Sanchez to beat Saizar and score his 21st double of 2012 in the 74th. The Argentina forward has now scored two goals in each of the past seven matches he has started.
The 20,000 fans who filled Cordoba's Municipal del Arcangel stadium cheered Messi as he came on the field.
Cordoba began by launching aggressive runs deep into Barcelona's half, and goalkeeper Jose Manuel Pinto was forced to leap athletically to tip out a powerful shot by Lopez Garai in the fifth minute.
Cordoba's Alberto Aguilar forced a save from Pinto when he jumped high to head the ball toward goal in the 43rd.
Messi found Villa with a well-timed pass in the 53rd minute but, having beaten the offside trap, the Spain striker shot over the bar. A powerfully struck shot by Pedro was saved by Saizar three minutes later.
At Balaidos stadium, Celta Vigo's Cristian Bustos unleashed a powerful shot from outside the area into the top far corner of the net in the 33rd minute after a sloppy throw-in by Madrid defender Pepe had been intercepted by Roberto Lago.
Celta Vigo's Mario Bermejo beat the offside trap to hit a low shot past goalkeeper Iker Casillas after receiving a pass in behind Madrid's back four by Danish midfielder Michael Krohn-Dehli in the 56th.
Cristiano Ronaldo latched onto an overhead pass from Xabi Alonso to pull one back in the 86th.
"They were the best team on the field," Madrid coach Jose Mourinho said, "but I still think Madrid is the favorite to win in the second leg at the Bernabeu."
Madrid forward Karim Benzema limped off in the 31st minute with an ankle injury.
Celta Vigo goalkeeper Sergio Alvarez made a good save by from a bouncing shot by Luka Modric.
Also, Atletico Madrid beat Getafe 3-0 despite resting prolific striker Radamel Falcao. Getafe defender Alexis Ruano fouled Diego Costa in the area and the Atletico striker converted the penalty in the 17th minute.
Atletico's Felipe Luis pounced on a loose ball in the 79th to score and Gabriel Fernandez passed to Diego Costa who scored in the 87th.
Also in the last 16, Sevilla trounced Mallorca 5-0 with Alvaro Negredo scoring twice. He rose to head in his first from a corner in the 13th, and hit his second beyond goalkeeper Dadu Aouate five minutes later.
"We've played at a great level, and have been very effective," said Sevilla coach Jose "Michel" Gonzalez. "It might even seem excessive to win 5-0 away from home in the Copa."
Jesus Navas ran up the left flank, crossed a low pass to Gary Medel, who beat defender Pedro Geromel to score Sevillas' third in the 26th.
Sevilla defender Alberto Botia connected with a bouncing free kick to score the fourth in the 48th, before Antonio Luna found the net from an assist by Navas in the 85th.
"We knew it would be complicated because we faced Sevilla," said Mallorca coach Joaquin Caparros. "We now have to lift ourselves up because on Saturday we face a very important match" (against Athletic Bilbao).
In the second leg of the last 32, Eibar advanced on the away goal rule after drawing 1-1 with Athletic Bilbao for the same overall score.
After having reached the Europa League and Copa del Rey finals last season, Athletic has had a disappointing season so far to be 14th in the league standings.