Buenos Aires: Lionel Messi was back in action and back in the goals as he hit a hat-trick for Argentina in a World Cup warm-up game against Haiti in Buenos Aires. It’s his 47th hat-trick for club and country.
Messi warmed up for next month’s FIFA World Cup with a hat-trick as he inspired Argentina to a morale-boosting 4-0 win over Haiti in a pre-tournament friendly here.
The Barcelona star opened his account from the penalty spot after PSG’s Giovani Lo Celso was brought down in the penalty area.
Messi had to wait until the second half to double Argentina’s lead when he tapped home from close range after the goalkeeper had parried a header from Lo Celso.
And the hat-trick goal arrived eight minutes later when Cristian Pavon pulled the ball back to Messi and he fired powerfully past the goalkeeper.
Messi then set up Sergio Aguero for Argentina’s fourth as they coasted to victory.
With this hat-trick, the FC Barcelona talisman took his international tally to 64 goals in 124 appearances. The Barcelona star is now below only Pele as the player who has scored the most goals for a South American country.
With his three goals, Lionel Messi has surpassed Ronaldo (the Brazilian) and is now on 64 goals, just 13 away from Pele who holds the record of most goals scored by a South American for his country. Via @SC_ESPN. pic.twitter.com/evY4IZMJqa
— Roy Nemer (@RoyNemer) May 30, 2018
The Albicelestes, who are two-time world champions, had struggled throughout the qualifying campaign but the thoroughly dominating display here should boost their confidence even though the win came against a side that has not qualified for the World Cup.
Haiti could not even register a shot at the goal in the whole match.
It was a night of celebration for another Barcelona star as Javier Mascherano joined Javier Zanetti as Argentina’s most capped player with 143 international appearances.
“I have no doubt that we are going to grow, we have time, this team is going to take shape”.We have been working hard on the physical, I think we have a nice opportunity to try again, we are going to be very excited, as always,” Messi said after the match.
Argentina plays Iceland in Moscow in their first match of the World Cup on 16 June.
Sampaoli was upbeat about his superstar No 10, saying, “Messi is training very well, he finished the Spanish tournament and two days later he was here, he looks very enthusiastic”.
“Against Iceland, we will have to take advantage of the domain, we need a high level of force in the World Cup.”