Messi Hat-Trick Gives Argentina 3-0 Victory Against Bolivia

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Lionel Messi scored a hat-trick to give Argentina a 3-0 victory against Bolivia in a World Cup qualifier, lifting him above Pele as South America’s top international scorer with 79 goals.

Argentine fans were allowed to watch their national team for the first time since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic at the Monumental stadium.

Messi got the opener after 14 minutes in Buenos Aires, dancing around the Bolivian defence before curling the ball into the net from just outside the box.

Argentina’s Lionel Messi (10) scores opening goal against Bolivia during World Cup Qualifier

The second came in the 64th minute through Messi after a beautiful piece of play between both Argentine forwards.

Messi and striker Lautaro Martinez dazzled the Bolivian defense with a quick exchange of four passes in a packed penalty box, and the legendary forward still had time to dribble past one defender before firing the ball into the net for his second of the game.

Argentina’s Lionel Messi celebrates goal with teammates

Messi then completed the hat-trick with two minutes left, crashing home a rebound from close range.

His 77th, 78th and 79th goals marked his seventh hat-trick for the national side and took him two above Pele in the South American scoring charts.

Argentina’s Lionel Messi (10) shoots to score a goal against Bolivia during the South American qualification football match for the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 at the Monumental Stadium in Buenos Aires

“I was really anxious, and I really wanted to enjoy it,” Messi said. “I’ve waited a long time for this, I went for it, and I dreamt about it. It’s a unique moment for the way it came about, after waiting so long.”

Messi broke down in tears as he lifted the Copa America trophy in front of the Argentine fans at the Monumental stadium. Argentina won the Copa America in July, their first major title in 28 years, and Messi danced with his team mates and showed off the trophy to the 21,000 supporters present.

“There was no better way to celebrate than by being here,” Messi added. “My mum is here, my siblings are in the stands. They have suffered so much and they are here celebrating. I am very happy.”

Argentina are in second place behind Brazil in the 10-team qualifying group for the Qatar 2022 World Cup. The top four teams qualify automatically and the fifth-placed side goes into an inter-regional playoff.

Colombia are fifth in the qualifying table, tied on points with fourth-placed Ecuador, while Chile are eighth.

CONMEBOL World Cup Qualification results

Colombia 3-1 Chile

Argentina 3-0 Bolivia

Brazil 2-0 Peru

Paraguay 2-1 Venezuela

Uruguay 1-0 Ecuador

Chidi Nwoke/Reuters.

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