Messi scores 100th Argentine goal in Curacao

Argentina captain Lionel Messi scored his 100th international goal for the reigning world champions on Tuesday as they rallied to a 7-0 friendly win over subordinated Curacao.

Seven-time Ballon d’Or winner Messi opened the scoring after 20 minutes against the Caribbean island minnows in Santiago del Estero.

It came 17 years after he opened his Argentinian account in a 3-2 defeat by Croatia in March 2006.

The 35-year-old added another just after the half-hour to make it 3-0 and then completed his hat-trick with the fifth in the 37th minute as Argentina played with their overwhelmed opponent.

It was his seventh hat-trick for the national team.

“You can’t describe Messi in words,” said fellow goalscorer Nicolas Gonzalez.

“He’s the best in the world and he shows it game after game, day after day. Every time he touches the ball he makes you smile.”

Messi not only came into the game as his country’s all-time leading goalscorer, but with more goals than the next two top scorers – Gabriel Batistuta at 56 and Sergio Aguero at 41 – combined.

This was Argentina’s second game since December’s dramatic World Cup victory over France in Qatar – with a 4-2 penalty shoot-out win after a thrilling 3-3 draw – and it was always about Messi scoring 100 goals.

Now at 102, he remains third in the all-time list, behind great rivals Cristiano Ronaldo (122) of Portugal and Iran’s Ali Daei (109).

– ‘Straight to the museum’ –

Messi came up short on Thursday last week when he scored his 99th goal for the Albiceleste as Argentina toiled against Panama in their homecoming celebration.

The Central Americans had held out until the 78th minute before 21-year-old MLS sensation Thiago Almada broke their resistance.

Messi then scored a direct free-kick a minute from time – his 800th goal in professional football – in front of 83,000 adoring fans in Buenos Aires.

Curacao, ranked 86th by world governing body FIFA, lasted just 20 minutes before Messi took a pass from Giovanni Lo Ceslo, clipped his marker on his weaker right foot and fired a low shot into the bottom corner.

The referee was then seen on live television tossing the ball to someone on the sidelines, while DirecTV commentators speculated he went “straight to the museum.”

Three minutes later, Gonzalez leapfrogged goalkeeper Eloy Room and headed home from four yards.

Gonzalez became the provider when Messi scored the first of three goals in four minutes, this time with his left foot.

He then laid the ball down for Enzo Fernandez to make a four with a long-range shot before Lo Celso released Messi from behind to improve his high-level play.

Argentina took their foot off the gas in the second half, with only a generously awarded penalty from Angel Di Maria and a close-range shot from Gonzalo Montiel contributing to the result.

But the 42,000 fans in attendance stayed in the mood to celebrate, waiting for their heroes to lift the World Cup trophy in front of them.


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