Lionel Messi scored a hat-trick in Argentina’s 4-0 victory over Guatemala to take his goal record to 35 and surpass Diego Maradona’s international tally.
The Barcelona forward appeared as a substitute in the recent World Cup qualifiers against Colombia and Ecuador, but he was given a starting berth alongside many fringe players in what was a second-string side for the Argentinians.
Messi opened the scoring in the 15th minute with a left-footed shot from outside the penalty area, and he got an assist when Augusto Fernandez got onto the end of his cross to head in and double their lead in the 35th minute.
Just four minutes later it was 3-0 after Messi converted a penalty to level his record with Maradona’s, and he completed his third hat-trick for his country just four minutes after halftime when Ezequiel Lavezzi crossed the ball low into the box from the right for the Balon d’Or winner to side-foot in.
His previous hat-tricks came last year against Switzerland and Brazil, and he departed in the 67th minute in third on the all-time Argentinian goal scorers list behind Hernan Crespo and record-holder Gabriel Batitusta, who has 56 international goals.
“That was the least important thing,” Messi said when speaking to TyC Sports when asked about overtaking Maradona. “We wanted to play well in this friendly. The team’s attitude was right.”