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Yearender soccer: Glory for Spain and Messi but problems never far away

Updated: 2012-12-25 16:33

SAO PAULO - Spain's glorious third successive triumph in a major tournament and individual goalscoring brilliance from Argentine Lionel Messi will be remembered as soccer's golden hallmarks of 2012.

But the year was also marred by tragedy and death in Egypt and the Netherlands and a worrying escalation of racism in Europe.

Yearender soccer: Glory for Spain and Messi but problems never far away

Barcelona's Lionel Messi celebrates a goal against Zaragoza during their Spanish First division soccer league match at Camp Nou stadium in Barcelona, Nov 17, 2012. [Photo/Agencies]

It was a year too when the soccer world shifted on its axis and finally spun away from its 19th century roots when 21st century goalline technology, officially sanctioned by world governing body FIFA, was used for the first time in December's Club World Cup finals in Japan.

That tournament, which ended on Sunday, saw Corinthians of Brazil crowned as the be`st club team in the world - an accolade most people would agree rightfully belongs to Barcelona.

But in one of the great upsets of the year, Barcelona failed to win the Champions League which seemed pre-ordained for them when they somehow lost to Chelsea on aggregate in the semifinals after Messi, proving he was only human after all, missed a penalty in the second leg.

He had however scored 90 goals with two weeks of the year remaining, beating West Germany's former striker Gerd Mueller's 40-year-old record for goals scored in a calendar year.

Related stories:

Yearender 2012 basketball: Lebron shines brightest on every stage

Yearender 2012 tennis: Golden year for Murray, regrets for Nadal

Yearender 2012 golf: Celtic Tiger and emerging China shine in 2012

Yearender 2012 motor racing: Vettel takes triple in year of surprises

Yearender 2012 China sports: Li Na 'playing herself'

Yearender 2012 China sports: Chinese badminton makes history but overshadowed by match-fixing scandal

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