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Argentina 7-0 Curacao: Messi nets first-half hat-trick
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Lionel Messi scored his 100th international goal before capping his performance with a first-half hat-trick as Argentina routed Curacao 7-0 during Tuesday's friendly in Santiago del Estero.

Messi came into the game on 99 international goals but did not need to wait long to bring up triple figures, netting a 20th-minute opener, in a lopsided match-up where the world champions raced to a 5-0 half-time lead.

The Argentinian captain played the entire 90 minutes, scoring three goals within 17 devastating first-half minutes, while he also laid off the assist for Enzo Fernandez's powerful strike among the flurry.

After Lautaro Martinez's glaring second minute point-blank miss, Messi was denied by Curacao goalkeeper Eloy Room's sharp save, but soon after Giovani Lo Celso found him in space inside the box, setting him up to jink past two defenders and fire in a low right-foot shot for his 100th Argentina goal.

Nicolas Gonzalez added a second in the 23rd minute when he out-jumped Room to head home from a corner, before he played provider for Messi's second with a neat left-foot finish in the 33rd minute.

Two minutes later, Messi held up the ball and dished out a deft pass for Fernandez to lash home, with the Paris Saint-Germain star wrapping up his hat-trick when he raced on to Lo Celso's lofted pass and coolly converted after taking two touches.

Room brilliantly denied Martinez twice early in the second half, while Leandro Bacuna fizzed Curacao's best chance over the bar from a 63rd-minute free-kick on the edge of the box.

Substitute Angel Di Maria added a sixth goal from the penalty spot in the 78th minute after Cuco Martina's handball, with Gonzalo Montiel side-footing home another from Paulo Dybala's cutback in the 88th minute.

What does it mean? Argentina's happy homecoming

Argentina's World Cup homecoming celebrations continued, following Thursday's 2-0 win over Panama in Buenos Aires, with Messi taking centre stage with his latest feat in the country's north.

It was the first time Argentina had scored seven or more goals since a 7-0 friendly win over Bolivia in September 2015.

Messi brings up eighth Argentina treble

Argentina's captain grabbed all the headlines, with his latest treble marking his eighth hat-trick for La Albiceleste.

Half of those hat-tricks have come against CONCACAF teams (Guatemala, Panama, Haiti and Curacao), with three against CONMEBOL nations (Brazil, Ecuador and Bolivia) and one against a UEFA team (Switzerland).

Messi's six-month surge for 100

Messi has surged to 100 international goals over the past six months, netting in 11 of the 12 games he has played for Argentina since September. The only time Messi failed to score was at the World Cup in a 2-0 win over Poland. He has scored 16 goals in his past 12 Argentina appearances.

What's next?

Despite being world champions, Argentina still need to qualify for the 2026 World Cup, with their campaign commencing in September with games against Ecuador and Bolivia.


Lionel MessiArgentinaCuracao
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