Argentina played its first game last week after winning the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar by the end of last year. It was its captain Lionel Messi, who stole the headlines in La Albiceleste’s 2-0 friendly match win over Panama, after him scoring his 800th career goal for club and country via a beautiful freekick set-piece minutes before time. Following the milestone, the seven-time Ballon d’Or winner extended his incredible scoring record in Argentina’s next outing against Curaçao, scoring three goals in the first half and helping the world champion to run riot against the Dutch Caribbean island with a 7-0 victory.
La Albiceleste Hit Five in the Opening 45 Minutes
Lionel Scaloni made six changes to his starting squad that comfortably defeated Panama last week in this game while Curaçao, which was defeated by Canada in the CONCACAF Nations League Matchday 5, had only one alteration by Remko Bicentini in this match.
La Albiceleste needed no time to get into the groove in this match and scored its first goal within the first 20 minutes of the game, courtesy of its skipper Messi. 26-year-old midfielder Giovani Lo Celso found La Pulga in the penalty box, who then rounded past two defenders to score at the near post with his right foot. The strike allowed Messi to reach a century of international tallies, becoming only the third ever person to do so, after Iran’s Ali Daei and Messi’s arch-rival Cristiano Ronaldo. The goal kickstarted a scoring spree for the home side, with the next coming off a corner. Germán Pezzella’s initial header was repelled by the Curaçao defence, but the rebound fell just nice for Nicolás González to double Argentina’s advantage.
Argentina kept its pressure going despite leading 2-0, and Messi scored his second goal of the evening in the 33rd minute, after González turned to become a provider this time around. The ACF Fiorentina forward tore down the Curaçao backline, before feeding Messi to slot home the goal at the far post with his left foot. The 35-year-old then set up the most expensive midfielder in football history, Enzo Fernández, for La Albiceleste’s fourth goal of the evening; The 22-year-old’s long range effort proved too much for goalkeeper Eloy Room. Lionel Scaloni’s men would go on to score another approximately 120 seconds later, when a long pass let Messi to break free and complete his first-half hat-trick.
Another milestone for Lionel Messi 🤩
Goal no. 1️⃣0️⃣0️⃣ for Argentina 🇦🇷 pic.twitter.com/shpfXyrrAX
— 433 (@433) March 29, 2023
World Champion Showed Its Supremacy
Just when everyone thought Argentina will end the game with a 5-0 score line, the world champion continued its dominance in the second period. A handball in the penalty box by the visitors meant a spot kick was awarded to the home side, in which Ángel Di María, who came on 11 minutes earlier, scored his 29th goal for La Albiceleste. The winger sent the shot stopper to the wrong way, by slotting his shot into the bottom left corner. Another replacement Paulo Dybala was the provider for the world champion’s seventh goal of the evening, when he dribbled past Curaçao defenders and delivered a cross to Gonzalo Montiel. The right-back managed to score despite his soft shot on goal.
Messi: “I Wish We Can Continue to Share Together Many Moments Like These.”
Lionel Messi took to the Internet to express his feeling over the match and his 100-goal milestone at international level. “What a nice way to close these dates, impressive today all the people in Santiago del Estero. I wish we can continue to share together many moments like these and that this craziness never ends!!!” was the caption of his latest Instagram post.
His manager echoed his captain’s spirit. The 44-year-old said: “As for Lionel Messi, what I want is for him to be on the pitch and be happy. These days were different to the previous friendlies because the players were allowed to be with their people. We felt that they had that desire to go out to contact the outside, although that meant that it was difficult to prepare these two games. But in the end we got them through by playing with intensity.”
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Elsewhere in Europe, Scotland produced a major upset against three-time European champion Spain, after Scott McTominay scoring both goals in the former’s 2-0 victory over La Roja in the 2024 UEFA Euro Qualifiers.