Lionel Messi scored his 79th international goal for Argentina, breaking the South American men’s record set by Brazilian legend Pele.
Messi scored all three goals in Argentina’s 3-0 win over Bolivia on Thursday in a World Cup qualifier at Monumental Stadium in Buenos Aires. He scored two goals more than Pelé, who scored 77 career goals for the national team.
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Messi follows Brazilian duo Marta (1
09) and Cristiane (96) for the overall record for the most goals scored internationally by a South American player.
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Third on the men’s list is Neymar, Messi’s team-mate at Paris Saint-Germain, who scored 69 international goals for Brazil.
“I was very nervous, I just wanted to enjoy the night. I’ve waited a long time for this, ”said Messi excitedly after the game. “We won the most important game and can now celebrate.”
The three-time world champion Pele remains in hospital on Monday after an operation for colon cancer, although the 80-year-old described the operation as a “big win”.
Messi, 34, had a memorable summer, joining PSG from Barcelona in August and winning his first international football title in July. he is Die Albiceleste won the Copa America of Brazil with a 1-0 win at the Maracana Stadium in Rio de Janeiro.
After Thursday’s result, Messi danced with his teammates and showed the trophy to the 21,000 fans in attendance.
“It was a unique moment [to win the Copa America] because of where and how we got the title, ”said Messi.
“There was no better way to do it and celebrate the title now, it’s amazing. My mother, my brothers are here in the stands. You have suffered a lot … I am very happy. “
Thursday’s game also took place just days after Argentina’s World Cup qualifier against Brazil – the first rematch since the Copa final – was controversially suspended. Brazilian health officials entered the field at the Corinthians Arena in Sao Paulo while the game was in progress and accused four Argentine players of failing to follow Brazil’s COVID-19 protocols to enter the country.
With 26 goals in World Cup qualifying after his hat-trick against Bolivia, Messi also outperforms Uruguayan star Luis Suarez – his former Barcelona teammate – for most CONMEBOL players.
With eight career goals against Bolivia in 11 games, it’s Messi’s most goals against a single opponent while wearing the Argentina shirt.
Messi is also his country’s all-time scorer after overtaking Gabriel Batistuta (54 goals) in 2016. He is also the player with the highest national team in Argentina. Thursday’s game against Bolivia was his 153rd international appearance.
Before his Copa America win, Messi had lost four major finals with Argentina’s senior team. She was defeated by Germany in the 2014 World Cup final and lost in the Copa America final in 2007, 2015 and 2016.
He had won the U20 World Cup in 2005 and an Olympic gold medal with the Argentine U23 in 2008.
Messi joined PSG in a free agent shock move in the summer after two decades at Barcelona. Messi had been with Barcelona since 2001 and joined the academy the year before.
Messi played 778 games for Barcelona, breaking Xavi Hernandez’s attendance record in the 2020/21 season. He also scored 672 goals, another club record, and helped Barça win ten La Liga titles and the Champions League four times.