Messi hat-trick takes him past Pelé’s goal scoring record

September 10 – Lionel Messi has surpassed Pelé as the leading South American men’s goal scorer in international matches with 79 goals, following his hat-trick in Argentina’s World Cup qualifiing win against Bolivia.

His three goals in a 3-0 victory against the Bolivians at the Monumental stadium in Buenos Aires gave him two more goals than Pelé, who had 77 international career goals in 92 games. The win was followed by a ceremony to celebrate Argentina’s Copa America victory last summer, the country’s first trophy since 1993.

“It was a unique moment [to win the Copa America] because of where and how we obtained the title,” said Messi. “There was no better way to do it and be able to celebrate the title now, it’s incredible. My mother, my brothers are here in the stands. They have suffered a lot … I’m very happy.”

“I was very nervous, I just wanted to enjoy the night. I waited a long time for this,” said an emotional Messi after the match. “We won the game [and] that was the most important thing and now we can celebrate.”

Later, he wrote on Instagram: “I dreamed about this day a lot and thanks to God it arrived. I don’t have words to thank you for all the love I’ve received.  What a beautiful night, I enjoyed it so much – unforgettable.”

Thursday’s match followed the cancellation of Argentina’s World Cup qualifier with Brazil in Sao Paulo in the weekend when officials of the Brazilian health agency invaded the pitch to remove four Argentina players, whom they claimed had failed to adhere to the country’s Covid-19 entry protocols.

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