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Messi breaks two international records in emotional Argentina triumph

Lionel Messi
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A hat-trick in Argentina’s latest World Cup qualifier enabled Lionel Messi to break two South American international records.

Lionel Messi has broken records held by Pele and Luis Suarez to stamp his name further into the history books.

The Argentina captain scored a hat-trick on Thursday to seal a 3-0 win over Bolivia in a World Cup qualifier in Buenos Aires, while also increasing his tally to 79 goals in 153 international caps.

Messi’s exploits in the Argentinian capital allowed him to move past Brazilian legend Pele’s record of 77 goals to become the men’s top goalscorer in South American football.

He also surpassed former Barcelona teammate and long-time friend Luis Suarez to become the leading scorer in CONMEBOL’s men’s World Cup qualifying history with 26 goals to his name.

Emotional Messi celebrates Copa America at home

While surpassing Pele and Suarez was indeed special, Messi celebrating Argentina’s Copa America title with the fans in Buenos Aires was a bigger moment.

After the many near-misses over the years, he finally won that elusive first title with the Argentina senior team this summer by leading the Albiceleste to a first Copa America title since 1993 in Brazil.

“I really wanted to be able to enjoy it,” said Messi after the match.

“I waited a long time for this, I looked for it and I dreamed of it. It’s a unique moment for the way it happened after so much waiting. There was no better way to celebrate this than to be here. My mother, my brothers are in the stands… They suffered a lot and today, they are here celebrating. I’m very happy.”

What next?

Argentina won’t return to action until October 7 for the first of three World Cup qualifiers. Lionel Scaloni’s men will first visit Paraguay before playing host to Uruguay on October 10 and Peru four days later at home.

Messi, meanwhile, will return to France for the time being to prepare for his Champions League debut with PSG next Wednesday at Club Brugge.