On a record-breaking night for some of the biggest stars in the football world, Lionel Messi accomplished his 800th career goal for club and country, in Argentina’s first competitive game since winning the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar. The 35-year-old Argentina national team captain and Paris Saint-Germain forward led his team to overcome Panama with ease with a 2-0 victory in an international friendly match at El Monumental yesterday.
Messi Matched Ronaldo’s Stunning Freekick
The 35-year-old Lionel Messi once again led Lionel Scaloni’s men out as the skipper and the team was seen emotional during the national anthem of Argentina; Several members of the team were crying before the loud and cheering home fans, including 2022 FIFA World Cup Golden Glove Award winner and Aston Villa goalkeeper Emiliano Martínez.
After a quiet first half, the world champion finally broke the deadlock, courtesy of Thiago Almada’s effort. The 21-year-old midfielder from Major League Soccer club Atlanta United was brought on right after the restart and scored his first international goal in three appearances for Argentina. This first blood came when La Pulga’s freekick set-piece met the left post and rebounded, before another replacement Leandro Paredes mistimed his shot and allowed the ball to fall for Almada to score.
Messi then doubled the home side’s lead, when his freekick a minute before the added time was given beat past opposing goalkeeper José Guerra. The goal was Messi’s 800th career goal for club and country, having also played for Spanish La Liga giant Barcelona and French Ligue 1 powerhouse Paris Saint-Germain in his club endeavour. This achievement made La Pulga the second ever player to do so, with the first being his arch-nemesis Cristiano Ronaldo.
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One Goal Away from 100 International Tallies
Messi’s Argentina will welcome Curaçao to Estadio Unico Madre de Ciudades for another international friendly match again next week, and La Pulga, who turns 36 this June, will be aiming to accomplish a century of goals for his national team, having scored his 99th tally against Panama this time around.
The world cup-winning captain had this to say after the match: “I want to thank you for all the love we are receiving, not just for winning the World Cup but from before, when we won the Copa America. I always dreamed of this moment, being able to celebrate with you in this country. Let’s enjoy it because we spent a long time to win it, and because you don’t know how long it will take until we win it again. Let’s enjoy the third star.”
The Rosario-born football icon also added, “I know that today is our day, but I don’t want to forget all those colleagues I had before, who also did everything possible to get this one, and unfortunately it didn’t happen to us, we were very close. They also deserve respect and recognition. We were going to do everything we could for this. I always dreamed of this moment, being able to come to my country and lift the World Cup. It was shown that it is very difficult to achieve this, it depends on many things. Sometimes due to small details it gets away from you.”
Thiago Messi couldn’t take his eyes off the World Cup 🏆👀 pic.twitter.com/Gu91BVBY3W
— 433 (@433) March 24, 2023
A Night to Remember for Football Megastars
Elsewhere in Italy, England’s Harry Kane became the country’s all-time top scorer, when his effort helped the Three Lions defeat gli Azzurri at Stadio Diego Armando Maradona for a 2024 UEFA Euro Qualifier while Messi’s long-time rival Cristiano Ronaldo made his world record of 197th cap in men’s international football and scored a brace against Liechtenstein in another European qualifying match.