Soccer

Messi's hat trick helps Argentina defeat Bolivia in World Cup qualifier

It was Leo Messi's hat-trick that led Argentina to victory against Bolivia in the South American World Cup qualifier and lifted Messi to a new record.

On Thursday night, Argentina played Bolivia in the South American World Cup qualifier in Buenos Aires. It was the first time that Argentina fans could watch their national team since the start of Covid 19. They did not disappoint, as Argentina went on to defeat Bolivia 3-0 thanks to three goals scored by Lionel Messi.

Messi's hat-trick breaks Pele's record

Messi scored goal number one just 14 minutes into the game, dancing around Bolivia's defense and striking the ball from outside the box. Goal number two came in the 64th minute on a one-two with Lautaro Martinez which showed off Messi's excellent footwork. The hat-trick was completed with two minutes left in the game when Messi scored off a rebound.

The three Messi goals were number 77, 78, and 79 for the Argentine in national games, putting him above Pele in the South American scoring charts.

"I’ve waited a long time for this, I went for it, and I dreamt about it," Messi said. "It’s a unique moment for the way it came about, after waiting so long.”

What the win means for Argentina and fans

At the end of the game, Messi broke down in tears as he lifted the Copa Americana trophy in front of the 21,000 fans in the stadium in Argentina, where his mother and siblings were watching in person.

"They have suffered so much and they are here celebrating," said Messi. "I am very happy.”

Argentina are now in second place behind Brazil in the qualifying group for Qatar. The top four teams will qualify automatically and the fifth place will go to an inter-regional playoff.