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SPORTS | 28-03-2023 21:14

Messi scores 100th goal for Argentina in 7-0 thrashing of Curacao

Albiceleste skipper completes a century of goals for the reigning world champions as Argentina romp to a 7-0 thrashing of Curaçao in Santiago del Estero.

Argentina captain Lionel Messi scored his 100th international goal for the reigning world champions on Tuesday in a low-key friendly against Curaçao.

The Albiceleste skipper opened the scoring in the 7-0 thrashing against the Caribbean island minnows in Santiago del Estero. 

The 35-year-old slotted home after just 20 minutes and soon added another just after the half hour mark to make it 3-0. He then completed his hat-trick – his ninth for Argentina – on 37 minutes with the fifth of a one-sided first half.

Nicolás González and Enzo Fernández also got their names on the scoresheet in first-half 5-0 walkover.

Second-half goals from Ángel Di María – from the penalty spot after a handball – and Gonzalo Montiel rounded off the win and leaving the fans in Santiago del Estero in seventh heaven.

 

Centurion

Messi came into the game not just as his country's all-time record goalscorer, but with more goals than the next two top marksmen – Gabriel Batistuta on 56 and Sergio Agüero with 41 – put together.

This was Argentina's second match since winning the World Cup in dramatic style against France in Qatar in December – triumphing 4-2 on penalties after a thrilling 3-3 draw – and it was always going to be about Messi reaching 100 goals.

He had come up short on Thursday last week when he notched his 99th goal for the Albiceleste as Argentina toiled in their homecoming celebration match against Panama.

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

Messi then scored direct from a free-kick a minute from time in front of 83,000 delirious fans in Buenos Aires at River Plate's Monumental stadium.

 

Holding out

Curaćao could only hold out for 20 minutes before Messi took a pass from Giovanni Lo Ceslo, cut inside his marker onto his weaker right foot and fired a low shot into the bottom corner.

The referee was then seen on live television throwing the ball to someone on the side of the pitch as DirecTV commentators speculated that it was heading "straight to the museum." 

Three minutes later González outjumped goalkeeper Eloy Room to head home from four yards. 

González turned provider as Messi scored the first of three goals in four minutes, this time with his left foot.

He then laid off the ball for Enzo Fernández to make it four with a shot from distance before Lo Celso released Messi behind the defence to notch his treble.

Argentina took their foot off the gas in the second half, with only a generously-awarded Di María penalty and close-range finish from Gonzalo Montiel adding to the score.

But the 42,000 fans present remained in party mood throughout, waiting for their heroes to lift the World Cup trophy in front of them.

 

– TIMES/AFP

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