Lionel Messi scored five goals for Argentina in a runaway 5-0 win over Estonia in a friendly in Pamplona, Spain, on Sunday, taking the South American side’s unbeaten run to 33 games.
The Paris Saint-Germain striker put his less-than-stellar club season behind him with two goals in the first half and a hat trick after the break as Argentina enjoyed an easy win over their European foes.
– World Cup: Who has qualified and who is still in contention
Messi, who has now netted 86 times in 162 games on international duty, opened the scoring with a penalty kick in the eighth minute as he waited for goalkeeper Matvei Igonen to commit before firing the ball into the bottom right corner.
The 34-year-old doubled Argentina’s lead just before halftime, adding another goal two minutes into the second half. He sealed the score with two more strikes in the 71st and 76th minutes.
Messi is now fourth on the all-time list of international scorers, three goals behind former Malaysia forward Mokhtar Dahari, in third. Iran’s Ali Daei (109) is second, while Portugal’s Cristiano Ronaldo remains first with 117 goals after scoring two for Portugal on Sunday.
It was Messi’s second five-goal game of his career and first for Argentina — giving him a total of 86 with the national team — having reached the mark on March 7, 2012, with Barcelona in a match against Bayer Leverkusen.
After the match, Argentina manager Lionel Scaloni said: “I don’t know what else I can say. It’s difficult. He is like Rafa Nadal, what more are you going to say? There are not any words left to describe him, what he creates. He is unique and it’s a pleasure to have him in this group, to coach him, how he behaves and how he dedicates himself to this shirt.
“We can only thank him. I don’t think he’s Argentina heritage, I think he’s world heritage. We will miss him when he’s no longer playing. I hope he keeps playing and everyone enjoys and protects him because it’s a pleasure to watch him.”
The 34-year-old Messi had two assists last week when Argentina defeated Italy 3-0 in the first Finalissima meeting of the South American and European champions. Last year, he helped Argentina win the Copa America for his first major title with the national team.
The victory extended Argentina’s unbeaten run in all competitions to 33 matches as the team continues its preparation for the World Cup in Qatar in November.
La Albiceleste are in Group C along with Mexico, Poland and Saudi Arabia.