Messi Magic: Lionel Scores His 100th Goal For Argentina In Dominant Win
Lionel Messi, the captain of Argentina, scored his 100th international goal for the reigning world champions on Tuesday as they easily defeated Curacao 7-0 in a friendly match. The seven-time Ballon d’Or winner opened the scoring against the Caribbean island team on 20 minutes in Santiago del Estero, 17 years after he scored his first international goal in a 3-2 loss to Croatia in March 2006.
Messi soon added another goal just after the half-hour mark to make it 3-0 and completed his hat-trick on 37 minutes with the fifth goal as Argentina outclassed their opponents. It was Messi’s seventh hat-trick for the national team.
Nicolas Gonzalez, who also scored in the match, said,
“You cannot describe Messi in words. 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 leading goalscorer, but with more goals than the next two top marksmen combined Gabriel Batistuta with 56 goals and Sergio Aguero with 41 goals. This was Argentina’s second match since winning the World Cup in Qatar in December, and it was always going to be about Messi reaching the 100-goal milestone. He now has 102 goals for his country, and he remains third in the all-time list, behind his great rival Cristiano Ronaldo of Portugal (122 goals) and Iran’s Ali Daei (109 goals).
Three minutes later, Gonzalez outjumped goalkeeper Eloy Room to head home from four yards. Gonzalez then set up Messi for the first of his three goals in four minutes, this time with his left foot. He then passed the ball to Enzo Fernandez to score from a distance to make it 4-0 before Lo Celso released Messi behind the defense to complete his hat-trick.
Argentina took their foot off the gas in the second half, with only an Angel Di Maria penalty and a close-range finish from Gonzalo Montiel adding to the scoreline. However, the 42,000 fans in attendance remained in high spirits throughout the match, eagerly waiting for their heroes to lift the World Cup trophy in front of them.
Messi had fallen short in his attempt to score his 100th goal for Argentina in their previous match against Panama, where the Central Americans had held out until the 78th minute before Thiago Almada scored the only goal of the match. However, Messi made up for it by scoring directly from a free-kick in the dying minutes of the match, which was also his 800th goal in professional football, in front of 83,000 ecstatic fans in Buenos Aires.
Curacao, ranked 86th by the world governing body FIFA, could only hold out for 20 minutes before Messi received a pass from Giovanni Lo Celso, cut inside his marker onto his weaker right foot, and fired a low shot into the bottom corner of the net. The referee was then seen on live television throwing the ball to someone on the side of the pitch, with DirecTV commentators speculating that it was heading “straight to the museum”.