Lionel Messi scored five goals for Argentina in a blistering 5-0 win over Estonia in a friendly in Pamplona, Spain on Sunday, taking the South American side’s unbeaten run to 33 matches.
The Paris Saint-Germain striker put his less than stellar club season behind him with two first-half goals and a hat-trick after the break as Argentina secured an easy victory over their European foes.
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Messi, who has now scored 86 times in 162 international appearances, opened the scoring with an eighth-minute penalty as he waited for goalkeeper Matvei Igonen to kick in before firing the ball into the bottom right corner.
The 34-year-old doubled Argentina’s lead just before half-time, adding another goal two minutes into the second half. He sealed the score with two more strikes in the 71st and 76th minutes.
Messi is now fourth on the all-time list of international goalscorers, three goals behind former Malaysia striker Mokhtar Dahari in third. Iranian Ali Daei (109) is second, while Portugal’s Cristiano Ronaldo remains first with 117 goals after scoring two for Portugal on Sunday.
It was Messi’s second five-goal game of his career and the first for Argentina – giving him a tally of 86 with the national team – after hitting the mark on March 7, 2012, with Barcelona in a game against Bayer Leverkusen.
After the game, Argentina coach Lionel Scaloni said: “I don’t know what else to say. It’s difficult. He’s like Rafa Nadal, what more are you going to say? There’s no more words to describe him, what he creates, he is unique and it is a pleasure to have him in this group, to coach him, how he behaves and how he is dedicated to this jersey.
“We can only thank him. I don’t think he’s Argentine heritage, I think he’s world heritage. We’ll miss him when he’s not playing anymore. I hope he keeps playing and that everyone appreciates it and protects it because it is a pleasure to watch it.”
Messi, 34, had two assists last week when Argentina beat Italy 3-0 in the first Finalissime meets South American and European champions. Last year, he helped Argentina win the Copa America for their first major title with the national team.
The victory extended Argentina’s unbeaten record in all competitions to 33 matches as the team continue their preparations for the World Cup in Qatar in November.
The Albiceleste are in Group C with Mexico, Poland and Saudi Arabia.