Lionel Messi scored a hat-trick to overtake Pele as the highest international goal scorer in South American football history as Argentina beat Bolivia 3-0 in the 2022 World Cup qualifiers.
For his 77th, 78th and 79th international goals, Messi has to put Argentina in a strong position to stand at the foot of the table against Bolivia in next year’s final in Qatar.
The 34-year-old Paris Saint-Germain forward made his 153rd appearance for Argentina, equalizing in the 14th minute with a long mark of 77 goals from Pele, nut-mugging a defender and then a brilliant delivery to Bolivian goalkeeper Carlos Lampe. Rotated by shot.
The Argentine captain then put forward a yellow clearing in the 64th minute with his second night, entered the Bolivian box and finished close before playing a two-on-two with Lotaro Martنیnez.
Messi completed the seventh international hat-trick of his career in two minutes from time to time, burying the rebound from close range.
An emotional Macy then said, “I’ve been waiting a long time for this.”
“I’m going to enjoy it now, it’s a unique moment after such a long wait. I’m so happy,” he added.
Former Barcelona star Cristiano Ronaldo holds the record for scoring 111 goals in 180 matches in international football
The victory came just four days after Argentina were embroiled in a dispute with regional rivals Brazil in Sao Paulo.
Brazilian authorities suspended the game after protests against the participation of England-based players Giovanni Lu Celso and Tottenham’s Christian Romero and Austin Villa’s Emiliano Martinez and Emiliano Bondia.
The four players, who were accused by Brazil of forging entry records, did not play in the game in Buenos Aires on Thursday after being released from the squad by the Argentine Football Association.
There was no sign of a hangover from the controversy between the Argentine players on Thursday, as Messi quickly took center stage to surpass Brazil’s great yellow record in style.
With Messi, usually in an incomplete form, Argentina could have scored more goals.
Lottaro Martنیnez of Inter Milan, who also rejected the first half goal from the side, should have scored after Messi scored with a brilliant chance in the 39th minute.
Messi must have scored the second goal in the first half, which he cleverly paired with PSG team-mate Angel Di Maria before he took a curling shot. However, goals were finally scored for Messi in the second half when Argentina reached home.
The win put South Africa second in the overall qualifying rankings with 18 points from eight games, six points behind Brazil, who beat Peru 2-0 in Recife on Thursday to secure their 100 per cent qualification. Record maintained.
Everton Ribeiro and Neymar scored for the underprivileged Brazil, who missed out on nine Premier League stars who were suspended by their clubs from this week’s qualifiers due to fears of a coup d’tat.
Brazil have now won all eight of their qualifying games and have 24 points.
Uruguay finished third with 15 points when Gaston Perero’s injury-time winner beat Ecuador 1-0 in Montevideo.
Ecuador are fourth with 13 points, tied with Colombia, who advanced to the table with a 3-1 win over Chile in Barranquilla on Thursday.
Paraquay raised their qualifying hopes, beating Venezuela 2-1 in Ascension to move up to sixth in the table with 11 points, two automatic qualifying places.