Lionel Messi broke the record of Brazil’s legend Pele for most goals scored in games between South American national teams.
Messi scored three goals in the ninth home match against Bolivia held in Buenos Aires on Friday in the South American qualifiers for the 2022 FIFA World Cup, leading his team to a 3-0 win.
The Argentinian footballer found the net with a mid-range left-footed goal after passing a defender 14 minutes into the first half, followed by another goal with a nimble finish in a chaotic situation in the 19th minute of the second half. He dribbled the ball kicked by Bolivia’s goalkeeper and scored another goal 43 minutes into the second half.
Messi, who first played in a game between national teams in 2005, has scored a total of 79 goals, including a hat trick in the Friday match. He broke the South American men's goals record, which was previously held by Pele at 77 goals, in just 153 games. Brazil’s legendary female footballer Marta holds the highest record across gender at 111 goals. Portuguese footballer Cristiano Ronaldo is the top international scorer in men's football with his 111 goals. Messi’s current record is tied for fifth place in men’s football.
With Messi’s outstanding performance, Argentina recorded five wins and three ties for eight South American qualifier matches, remaining in second place after Brazil with eight wins and no losses.
After a grand victory, a celebration for Argentina’s win at Copa América was held. The national team became the champion for the first time since 1993 by beating Brazil 1-0 in the final match held in Rio de Janeiro. It was the first championship title for a major competition that Messi earned.
“I was looking forward to winning Copa América for such a long time. I thank God for making this possible,” said Messi in tears after playing in front of Argentinian fans for the first time in a year and a half due to COVID-19.
Dong-Wook Kim email@example.com