Argentina captain Lionel Messi on Tuesday scored his 100th international goal for the reigning world champions in a low-key friendly against Curacao.
Seven-time Ballon d’Or winner Messi opened the scoring in the friendly against the Caribbean island minnows on 20 minutes in Santiago del Estero.
The 35-year-old soon added another just after the half-hour mark to make it 3-0, and then completed his hat-trick on 37 minutes with the fifth as Argentina toyed with their overmatched opponents.
Messi came into the game not just as his country’s all-time record goalscorer, but with more goals than the next two top marksmen — Gabriel Batistuta on 56 and Sergio Aguero with 41 — put together.
This was Argentina’s second match since winning the World Cup in dramatic style against France in Qatar in December — triumphing 4-2 on penalties after a thrilling 3-3 draw — and it was always going to be about Messi reaching 100 goals.
He had come up short on Thursday last week when he notched his 99th goal for the Albiceleste as Argentina toiled in their homecoming celebration match against Panama.
The Central Americans had held out until the 78th minute before 21-year-old MLS sensation Thiago Almada broke their resistence.
Messi then scored direct from a free-kick a minute from time in front of 83,000 delirious fans in Buenos Aires.
Curacao could only hold out for 20 minutes before Messi took a pass from Giovanni Lo Ceslo, cut inside his marker onto his weaker right foot and fired a low shot into the bottom corner.
The referee was then seen on live television throwing the ball to someone on the side of the pitch as DirecTV commentators speculated that it was heading “straight to the museum.”
Three minutes later Nicolas Gonzalez outjumped goalkeeper Eloy Room to head home from four yards.
Gonzalez turned provider as Messi scored the first of three goals in four minutes, this time with his left foot.
He then laid off the ball for Enzo Fernandez to make it four with a shot from distance before Lo Celso released Messi behind the defense to notch his treble.