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Saturday, Oct. 2, 2010

Messi accepts Golden Boot for goal tally last season

BARCELONA, Spain (AP) Lionel Messi has been presented with the Golden Boot award for being the top scorer in European domestic leagues last season.

News photo
Gifted: Lionel Messi receives the Golden Boot as the top scorer in all of Europe last season at a ceremony in Barcelona, Spain, on Thursday. AP PHOTO

The Argentine forward received the prize Thursday after scoring 34 league goals to help Barcelona retain its La Liga title.

Messi joined Marco van Basten, Ronaldo and Cristiano Ronaldo as the only players to win the three major individual awards: the Golden Boot, FIFA Player of the Year and the Golden Ball, given to Europe's top player.

Chelsea's Didier Drogba and Udinese's Antonio di Natale were tied for second place with 29 goals apiece.

Luis Suarez scored 35 goals last season for Ajax in the Netherlands but failed to win due to the points system that compensates for the degree of difficulty posed by the major European leagues: England, Spain, Italy, Germany and France.

Messi failed to score a single goal at the World Cup in South Africa. Even so, former Argentina coach Diego Maradona said Wednesday that Messi deserved the award and hoped he would "win many more."

Messi is the second Barcelona player to be honored by European Sports Magazine. Ronaldo earned the club's first Golden Boot by scoring 34 goals in the 1996-97 season.

Barcelona captain Carles Puyol applauded Messi's ability and character.

"He is the best in the world, but he is humble. He improves everyday," Puyol said before the awards ceremony. "He is the best player in the world and he demonstrated that he deserves this award."

Messi has scored two goals in three games in the Spanish League this season.

Liverpool struggles

LONDON (AP) Liverpool's domestic woes followed it all the way to the Netherlands and a 0-0 draw with Utrecht in the Europa League on Thursday, while Manchester City drew 1-1 with Juventus.

A disjointed Liverpool display relied on goalkeeper Pepe Reina's saves to secure a point, which kept the Reds top of Group K as Napoli drew 3-3 away to 10-man Steaua Bucharest.

"I thought it was a good point," Liverpool manager Roy Hodgson said. "Utrecht did well, they were determined, aggressive and committed, so we knew we had to be at our best defensively to keep them out and fortunately we did."

Juventus is still winless in Group A after Adam Johnson's 36th-minute goal for Manchester City canceled out Vincenzo Iaquinta's early strike for the Italian visitors.

Atletico Madrid earned the first point of its title defense by drawing 1-1 with Group B leader Bayer Leverkusen, but remains bottom — below Rosenborg, which beat Aris 2-1.

Stuttgart, which is bottom of the Bundesliga with just three points from its first six games, is top of Group H with a perfect record after beating Odense 2-1, while David Degen's double gave Young Boys a 2-0 win over Getafe.

Sporting Lisbon, CSKA Moscow, Zenit St. Petersburg, Paris St. Germain, Porto and Besiktas also recorded second successive wins.

Such a feat never looked likely for Liverpool, which is more accustomed to playing in the European Cup it has won five times.

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