Tuesday, Argentina captain Lionel Messi scored his 100th international goal as the defending world champion dominated Curacao 7-0.
On Tuesday, Argentina captain Lionel Messi scored his 100th international goal against Curacao.
Seven-time Ballon d’Or winner Messi opened the goal against the Caribbean island minnows in Santiago del Estero after 20 minutes.
That occurred 17 years after he scored his first goal for Argentina in a 3-2 loss to Croatia in March 2006.
The 35-year-old added another goal shortly after the half-hour mark to make the score 3-0, and then completed his hat-trick in the 37th minute as Argentina dominated its inferior opponent.
That was his eighth national team hat trick.
Messi entered the game not only as his country’s all-time leading scorer, but also with more goals than the next two leading scorers combined: Gabriel Batistuta with 56 and Sergio Aguero with 41.
This was Argentina’s second match since winning the World Cup in spectacular fashion against France in Qatar in December – 4-2 on penalties after a thrilling 3-3 draw – and Messi’s 100th goal was always the focus.
He remains third on the all-time record, after Portugal’s Cristiano Ronaldo (122) and Iran’s Ali Daei (114). (109).
“Directly to the museum”
Messi fell short last Thursday when he scored his 99th goal for the Albiceleste as Argentina struggled against Panama in its homecoming celebration match.
The Central Americans maintained their fight until the 78th minute, when 21-year-old MLS prodigy Thiago Almada broke it.
In front of 83,000 exuberant spectators in Buenos Aires, Messi scored his 800th goal in professional football from a direct free kick with one minute remaining.
The 86th-ranked Curacao could only hold out for 20 minutes when Messi received a pass from Giovanni Lo Celso, cut inside his defender onto his weaker right foot, and struck a low effort into the bottom corner.
The referee was then seen, on live television, tossing the ball to a spectator on the sidelines, as DirecTV commentators speculated that it was destined for a museum.
Three minutes later, Nicolas Gonzalez scored from four yards out after leaping over goalkeeper Eloy Room.
Messi scored the first of his three goals in four minutes with his left foot, assisted by Gonzalez.
He then passed the ball to Enzo Fernandez, who scored with a long-range effort, before Lo Celso released Messi beyond the defense for his third goal.
The only goals scored by Argentina in the second half were a penalty kick granted to Angel Di Maria and a close-range goal scored by Gonzalo Montiel.
The 42,000 supporters in attendance remained in a celebratory mood as they awaited their heroes to hoist the World Cup trophy in front of them.