Argentina captain Lionel Messi scored a hattrick against Bolivia in the FIFA World Cup 2022 qualifying match at the El Monumental stadium in Buenos Aires on Thursday (September 9). Messi with his three strikes became the top international goal-scorer from South America with 79 goals to his name, going past Brazilian legend Pele’s tally of 77 goals.
Portugal talisman Cristiano Ronaldo is the leading international goal-scorer with 111 in 180 matches but Messi, who recently moved from Barcelona to PSG football club, now has 79 in 155 games to be tied in 5th spot with Godfrey Chitalu of Zambia. Messi scored in the 14th, 64th and 88th minute of the game to set up Argentina’s 3-0 win over Bolivia.
Messi trails Brazilian women footballers Marta (109) and Cristiane (96) for the overall record for most goals scored by any South American player at the international level. Third on the men’s list is Messi’s Paris Saint-Germain teammate Neymar, who has 68 international goals for Brazil.
Earlier this week, Messi much-talked about face-off against Neymar’s Brazil was abandoned due to COVID-19 protocol violations.
With 26 goals in World Cup qualifying matches, Messi also passes Uruguay star Luis Suarez – his former teammate at Barcelona – for most all-time among CONMEBOL players.
Messi is also his country’s all-time leading scorer, having moved past Gabriel Batistuta (54 goals) in 2016. He is also Argentina’s most capped player, with Thursday’s match against Bolivia marking his 153nd international appearance. Messi, 34, won his first senior international football title this summer at the 2021 Copa America in a 1-0 win over Brazil.
Prior to that win at the Maracana Stadium in Rio de Janeiro. Messi had lost four major finals with Argentina’s senior side. They were beaten by Germany in the 2014 World Cup final and had lost in the final at the Copa America in 2007, 2015 and 2016.