Lionel leads Argentina with three-goal haul – Messi's international hat-tricks
Another hat-trick and another match ball for Lionel Messi as World Cup-bound Argentina eased past minnows Haiti on Tuesday.
The five-time Ballon d'Or winner was the star of the show in Buenos Aires, where Argentina prepared for next month's Russia showpiece with a 4-0 rout of the Caribbean visitors.
Messi's sixth international hat-trick took his tally to 64 goals in 124 appearances for two-time world champions Argentina.
With Messi set to be front and centre in Russia, we look at the 30-year-old's list of three-goal hauls for La Albiceleste.
Friendly: Switzerland 1-3 Argentina, February 29 2012
Messi's first international hat-trick came in a physical clash against Switzerland in Bern. The youthful attacker glided past his opponents in an inspiring run before he combined with Sergio Aguero to open the scoring in the 20th minute. His first-half masterpiece was followed by two goals during the final four minutes – including a stoppage-time penalty – to break Switzerland's stubborn resistance in difficult conditions.
Friendly: Argentina 4-3 Brazil, June 9 2012
The Barcelona superstar's sweetest three-goal performance came four months later against South American rivals Brazil in a friendly in New Jersey. Messi's brilliance decided the seven-goal thriller at MetLife Stadium, where he left Brazil's defence in his wake for two goals in the space of three minutes to cancel out Romulo's opener. Oscar equalised and Hulk put Brazil ahead in the second half but Messi saved the best for last as the fleet-footed magician curled an unstoppable effort from the edge of the area to seal victory five minutes from the end after Federico Fernandez had equalised.
Friendly: Guatemala 0-4 Argentina, June 14 2013
Messi played just 68 minutes against Guatemala but that is all the time he needed to inspire a crushing win on the road. It took 15 minutes for Messi to open the scoring with a stunning effort from outside of the penalty area to silence the Guatemalan crowd. Another jinking run saw Messi fouled inside the box before converting his own spot-kick prior to half-time after Augusto Fernandez had doubled the lead. Messi completed his hat-trick within four minutes of the restart with a simple side-footed finish.
Copa America: Argentina 5-0 Panama, June 10 2016
Copa America Centenario did not go according to plan for Messi and Argentina. It even resulted in Messi's brief international retirement following defeat to Chile in the final but the Argentine great provided fans with a memorable 19-minute hat-trick. Making his first appearance of the tournament off the bench after Nicolas Otamendi's early opener, Messi scored Argentina's second of the night in Chicago, albeit fortuitously after the ball ricochet off Gonzalo Higuain's face and into his path. Messi then curled a show-stopping free-kick past Jaime Penedo for Argentina's third 10 minutes later before netting his third in the 87th minute, having manoeuvred himself free inside the box prior to Sergio Aguero's late strike.
World Cup qualifier: Ecuador 1-3 Argentina, October 10 2017
Messi's most important hat-trick ensured Argentina qualified for the 2018 World Cup in Russia. In danger of missing the tournament for the first time since 1970 having dropped to sixth and outside of the qualifying spots entering the final match, Messi proved to be Argentina's saviour in stunning scenes. Ecuador broke the deadlock just 38 seconds into the game to send shockwaves through Argentina until Messi singlehandedly booked the country's ticket to Russia. He equalised expertly in the 12th minute having combined with Angel Di Maria and his thunderous effort eight minutes later completed the comeback. Messi sealed the great escape with a glorious chip just past the hour-mark.
Friendly: Argentina 4-0 Haiti, May 29 2018
Messi had a field day against Haiti – ranked 108th in the FIFA standings. Giovani Lo Celso was fouled inside the penalty area under a rash challenge and Messi made no mistake in the 17th minute despite Johny Placide getting a glove to the ball in Buenos Aires. The score remained the same until Messi completed his hat-trick in eight second-half minutes at La Bombonera. Messi side-footed an easy rebound and he collected the match ball in the 66th minute when he controlled a cutback from Cristian Pavon and finished powerfully past Placide. Messi also teed up Sergio Aguero for Argentina's fourth in a five-star display.