Lionel Messi became just the third male player to surpass 100 international goals, scoring a hat trick to blow past the century mark in the first half of Argentina‘s 7-0 friendly win over Curacao on Tuesday in Santiago del Estero.
The Paris Saint-Germain forward picked up the ball in the middle of the area, cut to his right hit a low shot past the keeper to hit the remarkable career milestone. He then added to his tally before half-time with another trademark, bending strike, before adding a third on the counter-attack to take his total to 102.
Messi passed the 100-goal mark in his 174th appearance for his country, after netting his 99th international goal — and 800th of his career — in Thursday’s 2-0 win against Panama.
He is the first South American male player to hit the 100-goal mark and second South American overall behind Brazil’s Marta, who has 109 for country.
“I hope there will be more (Messi goals), he deserves all the praise and it’s good that these goals had been on Argentine soil, that has a special value too,” Argentina coach Lionel Scaloni told reporters.
The game against Curacao was the second since they lifted the 2022 World Cup in Qatar in December, Argentina’s first world title in 36 years.
Messi, 35, remains third on the all-time men’s list of leading international scorers behind Portugal‘s Cristiano Ronaldo, who achieved the century of goals in September of 2020, and now has 120, and Iran‘s Ali Daei, who scored 109 before retiring in 2007.
Almost half (46) of Messi’s goals have come in international friendlies. The former Barcelona forward has scored 28 goals in World Cup qualifiers, including a hat trick in a 3-1 win at Ecuador in October 2017 that secured Argentina passage to the 2018 World Cup.
Messi has scored 13 times in the Copa America and he is the highest goalscorer for Argentina at World Cup competitions, having netted 13 goals in 26 matches spanning five editions, starting in 2006.
A record seven-time Ballon d’Or winner, Messi made his Argentina debut in August 2005 in a 2-1 win at Hungary, a game in which he was sent off after just two minutes. He scored his first international goal a year later in his sixth appearance against Croatia.
He registered a goal and an assist within 13 minutes of his World Cup debut with Argentina at 18-years-old in a 6-0 win over Serbia and Montenegro at the 2006 World Cup.
The Rosario-born player will have an opportunity to add to his goal tally when Argentina host Curacao in a friendly on March 28.