Lionel Messi has overtaken Pele as the leading international goalscorer in South American history as Argentina beat Bolivia 3-0 in a FIFA World Cup Qualifier. Messi started the night with 76 international goals to his name and finished with 79. Pele has 77 international goals to his name.
Argentina are very much on course to qualify for the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar and are still unbeaten this campaign.
Lionel Messi scores his seventh career hat-trick for Argentina
Lionel Messi opened the scoring for Argentina as early as the 13th minute of the game. After receiving the ball almost 30 yards away from goal, Messi turned and nutmegged a defender before curling one into the top bin.
The Paris Saint-Germain talisman added to his tally in the 64th minute. The second goal showed just how good a partnership Lionel Messi has struck up front with Lautaro Martinez for Argentina. Messi forayed into the area and proceeded to link up with Martinez before sending the ball into the back of the net.
That was the goal with which he equalled Pele's record. Messi moved ahead of Pele with his third goal of the night, tapping home a rebound after the Bolivian goalkeeper parried a shot from outside the box.
It was Lionel Messi's seventh career hat-trick in international football. The 34-year-old has some catching up to do as his rival Cristiano Ronaldo is currently the men's leading international goalscorer. Ronaldo has 111 goals from 180 matches.
After the match, the Argentina team celebrated their Copa America triumph in front of their home audience. It proved to be an emotional moment for Lionel Messi, who broke down during the interview. He said:
“I really wanted to be able to enjoy it. I waited a long time for this, I looked for it and I dreamed of it. It’s a unique moment for the way it happened, after so much waiting.
“There was no better way to celebrate this than to be here. My mother, my brothers are in the stands… They suffered a lot and today, they are here celebrating. I’m very happy.”
It has been a summer where Lionel Messi has gone through a spectrum of emotions. After winning the elusive Copa America with Argentina, Messi was forced to leave Barcelona due to the club's financial crisis.
He is currently a Paris Saint-Germain player but is yet to start for the Ligue 1 outfit, though he has made one appearance off the bench.
Without further ado, let's take a look at how Twitter responded to Lionel Messi scoring yet another hat-trick.