Lionel Messi went soaring past yet another career milestone by scoring a hat trick in Argentina’s thumping 7-0 friendly win at home against Curacao.
It took just 37 minutes for Messi to rattle through the ninth hat trick of his international career, the opening goal of which also happened to be his 100th senior goal for the Albiceleste.
Only last week Messi scored the 800th goal of his career for club and country in a 2-0 victory over Panama in Buenos Aires. Having moved onto 99 international goals in that game, which forms part of Argentina’s World Cup homecoming tour, the 35-year-old reached three figures against Curacao in the 20th minute.
He then added two more inside 17 minutes before the interval as supplementary goals from Nicolas Gonzalez, Enzo Fernandez, Angel Di Maria and Gonzalo Montiel completed the rout at the Estadio Unico in Santiago del Estero.
With that, Messi extended his lead over Gabriel Batistuta (54) as his country’s all-time top scorer. He also moved closer to second place on the list of all-time men’s international goal scorers behind retired Iran legend Ali Daei (109) and old adversary Cristiano Ronaldo, who has 122 goals and counting for Portugal.
Here’s our pick of the 10 best goals Messi has scored in the blue and white striped shirt since his debut in 2005.
– Stream on ESPN+: LaLiga, Bundesliga, more (U.S.)
10. Croatia 3-2 Argentina, Friendly (2006) – International goal No. 1
The first goal of Messi’s senior international career came on his sixth appearance and proved to be a precursor of what was to come as the young Barcelona winger seized on a loose pass, quickly scampered upfield, cut inside and curled a clipped shot inside the far post — a finish that has since become incredibly familiar to fans.
9. Argentina 1-0 Iran, World Cup (2014) – International goal No. 40
🧙♂️ Messi Magic 🧙♂️
The wizard from 🇦🇷 @Argentina sent La Albiceleste to the #WorldCup knockout stages with this stunning injury-time winner v IR Iran #OnThisDay in 2014
🤯 It’s still mind-blowing pic.twitter.com/sUvTISdnlT
— FIFA (@FIFAcom) June 21, 2020
Argentina looked in danger of being hopelessly frustrated by Iran as their second group stage tie stood goalless with 90 minutes on the clock and stoppage time beginning to fade. Then came Messi.
8. Argentina 1-0 Nigeria, World Cup (2018) – International goal No. 65
Four years later and Messi repeated the feat by scoring the only goal of the game against a dogged Nigeria team to send Argentina through to the knockout phase of the World Cup in Russia. The solo effort proved to be his only goal at the tournament as the Albiceleste were knocked out by eventual winners France in the round of 16.
7. United States 0-4 Argentina, Copa America (2016) – International goal No. 55
Messi scored one goal and laid on two assists in a 4-0 win over the United States in the semifinal of the Copa America Centenario in Houston. His goal was Argentina’s second of the night and came via an exquisite free kick that was sent effortlessly swerving into the top corner from 25 yards. The goal also saw Messi overtake Batistuta to become his national side’s new all-time record goal scorer, though there has been some confusion over Batistuta’s official tally.
6. Argentina 3-0 Mexico, Copa America (2007) – International goal No. 6
Argentina thrust themselves into the final of the 2007 Copa America, propelled in part by a brilliant goal from their prodigious 20-year-old winger — an impudent lob from 18 yards out scored on the hour mark. Unfortunately the momentum didn’t last as the Albiceleste came unstuck against Brazil in the final.
5. Argentina 1-0 Brazil, Friendly (2010) – International goal No. 15
Messi’s first international goal against Brazil came at the fifth attempt and also proved to be the difference between the two sides as they met for an exhibition friendly in Doha, Qatar. The magic moment came in the 92nd minute as the Barca forward slalomed from the halfway line, cut past five defenders and then rolled a sumptuous finish past goalkeeper Victor to pilfer the victory.
4. Ecuador 1-3 Argentina, World Cup qualification (2017) – International goals No. 59, 60 and 61
Argentina were perilously close to missing out on reaching the World Cup for the first time since 1970 when they fell behind against Ecuador in a crucial qualifier in Quito. Thankfully disaster was averted as Messi put in a virtuoso display to rescue an entire nation from the brink of despair. One clutch hat trick from their captain later and they were in the draw for Russia 2018.
3. Argentina 4-3 Brazil, Friendly (2012) – International goal No. 26
Messi scored a hat trick as Argentina stormed to victory over their great rivals in a seven-goal spectacular at the Metlife Stadium in New Jersey. Messi’s third was the match winner and also the pick of the bunch as the diminutive forward picked the ball up close to the halfway line, way out on the right flank, and still somehow managed to deposit it in the back of the net within a matter of seconds.
2. Argentina 3-0 Colombia, World Cup qualification (2016) – International goal No. 57
#VamosArgentina Mira el golazo de #Messi para 1-0 de @Argentina ante Colombia. pic.twitter.com/61BUOGdiD7
— 🇦🇷 Selección Argentina ⭐⭐⭐ (@Argentina) November 15, 2016
Needing a win to resurrect their faltering World Cup qualification campaign, Messi took just nine minutes to open the scoring in San Juan with a brilliant direct free kick, which ultimately helped bring to an end Argentina’s dismal four-match winless run.
1. Argentina 2-0 Mexico, World Cup (2022) — International goal No. 93
While he obviously scored several goals in the final itself, there’s an argument that Messi’s goal against Mexico in the group stage of the 2022 World Cup is the most important of his entire career. Having slumped to a shock defeat to Saudi Arabia in the opening game, Argentina desperately needed a catalyst against Mexico. Sure enough, Messi drove home the opener with 64 minutes elapsed, lit the fuse under his countrymen and the rest, as they say, is era-defining history as they went on to lift the trophy.