Argentina’s World Cup-winning skipper scores hat-trick to reach 100 international goals in 7-0 rout of Curacao
Argentina’s Lionel Messi (right) celebrates with teammate Giovani Lo Celso after scoring against Curacao during an international friendly at the Madre de Ciudades Stadium in Argentina on Tuesday. Pic/AFP
Argentina captain Lionel Messi on Tuesday scored his 100th international goal for the reigning world champions as they romped to a 7-0 friendly win over outclassed Curacao.
Seven-time Ballon d’Or winner Messi opened the scoring against the Caribbean island minnows on 20 minutes in Santiago del Estero. It came 17 years after he opened his Argentina account in a 3-2 defeat to Croatia in March 2006.
The 35-year-old soon added another just after the half-hour mark to make it 3-0, and then completed his hat-trick on 37 minutes with the fifth as Argentina toyed with their overmatched opponents. It was his seventh hat-trick for the national team.
All-time record goalscorer
“You cannot describe Messi in words,” said fellow goalscorer Nicolas Gonzalez. “He’s the best in the world and he shows it match after match, day after day. Every time he touches the ball, he makes you smile.” Messi came into the game not just as his country’s all-time record goalscorer, but with more goals than the next two top marksmen—Gabriel Batistuta on 56 and Sergio Aguero with 41—put together.
This was Argentina’s second match since winning the World Cup in dramatic style against France in Qatar in December—triumphing 4-2 on penalties after a thrilling 3-3 draw—and it was always going to be about Messi reaching 100 goals.
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Now with 102, he remains third in the all-time list, behind great rival Cristiano Ronaldo (122) of Portugal and Iran’s Ali Daei (109). Messi came up short last Thursday when he notched his 99th goal for the Albiceleste as Argentina toiled in their homecoming celebration match against Panama.
The Central Americans had held out until the 78th minute before 21-year-old MLS sensation Thiago Almada broke their resistence. Messi then scored direct from a free-kick a minute from time—his 800th goal in professional football—in front of 83,000 delirious fans in Buenos Aires.
Curacao, ranked 86th by world governing body FIFA, could only hold out for 20 minutes before Messi took a pass from Giovanni Lo Ceslo, cut inside his marker onto his weaker right foot and fired a low shot into the bottom corner.
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