Lionel Messi scored a first-half hat-trick – and set a new record in the process – as Argentina hammered Curacao 7-0 on Tuesday night.
The world champions were 5-0 up by half-time thanks to Messi’s treble plus additional goals from Nicolas Gonzalez and Enzo Fernandez.
Angel Di Maria and Gonzalo Montiel added gloss to the scoreline in the second half to continue Argentina’s winning run.
However, the night belonged to Messi, who scored the 100th, 101st and 102nd goals of his international career.
The 35-year-old, who inspired Argentina to World Cup glory in Qatar, opened the scoring with a neat finish on his less-favoured right foot.
The legendary forward then made it 3-0 in the 33rd minute with a typically unerring finish on his left foot.
And just three minutes later Messi completed his hat-trick after being played through on goal by Giovani Lo Celso.
Video: Lionel Messi’s hat-trick vs Curacao
Watch Messi’s first-half hat-trick here:
You can tell that the seven-time Ballon d’Or winner is absolutely loving playing for his country right now.
What record did Lionel Messi break vs Curacao?
Messi became the first World Cup winner to score 100 international goals.
The only other two footballers to have scored over 100 international goals are Iran’s Ali Daei (109) and, of course, Portugal icon Cristiano Ronaldo (122).
Will Lionel Messi equal Cristiano Ronaldo’s international goals record?
Messi is currently 20 international goals behind Ronaldo but it’s not beyond the realms of possibility that he will eventually catch up with his long-term rival.
While most expected Messi to retire after the 2022 World Cup, regardless of the result, it’s clear that the global star wants to continue to lead his country until at least the 2024 Copa America – which takes place in the United States next summer.
There’s even talk that Messi could feature at the 2026 World Cup finals, when he will be 39 years old.
What did Lionel Messi say after Argentina 7-0 Curacao?
Messi took to Instagram after the match, posting the following: “What a nice way to close these dates, impressive today all the people in Santiago del Estero. I wish we can continue to share together many moments like these and that this craziness never ends!!!”
What did Argentina boss Lionel Scaloni say?
Per Yahoo, Scaloni told reporters: “As for Lionel Messi, what I want is for him to be on the pitch and be happy.”
He added: “These days were different to the previous friendlies because the players were allowed to be with their people.
“We felt that they had that desire to go out to contact the outside, although that meant that it was difficult to prepare these two games. But in the end we got them through by playing with intensity.”