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Messi overtakes Batistuta as Argentina’s top scorer in World Cup history

Leo Messi scored his fifth goal at Qatar 2022 in Tuesday’s semi-final against Croatia to reach yet another milestone in his extraordinary career.

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Messi overtakes Batistuta as Argentina’s top scorer in World Cup history

It’s hard to keep up with Lionel Messi’s record-breaking feats. On Tuesday, he reached yet another milestone when he tucked away his 34th minute penalty against Croatia. It was Messi’s fifth goal at Qatar 2022. He was on target from the spot in the group stage opener against Saudi Arabia, gleefully rifled home from 25 yards out against Mexico, broke his knockout stage duck by finding the net against Australia in the Round of 16 and scored again against the Netherlands in the quarter-finals.

Before the 2022 World Cup started, Messi was third in the ranking of Argentina’s all-time top scorers at the tournament. Now he is top with his strike against Croatia moving him ahead of Gabriel Batistuta, who reached double figures in three finals (USA 94, France 98 and Korea/Japan 2002).

Messi has enjoyed the honour of being Argentina’s maximum goal scorer of all-time since edging past Gabriel Batistuta’s previous record (56) in November 2016. In little under three weeks in Qatar, he has moved past Diego Maradona, Guillermo Stábile and Batistuta for World Cup goals.

However, among the all-time World Cup’s top scorers, Messi still finds himself well down the ranking. His current tally stands at 11 goals from five editions of the tournament - at South Africa 2010, he didn’t score a single goal. That has left him with the difficult task of even breaking into the top three - he needs another three goals just to pull level with the legendary Gerd Müller, the tournament’s third top scorer in history with 14 goals. Above Müller, there is Ronaldo Nazário (15) and Miroslav Klose (16).

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All-time top scorers at the World Cup

  • 16 Miroslav Klose (Germany) 2002, 2006, 2010, 2014
  • 15 Ronaldo (Brazil) 1998, 2002, 2006
  • 14 Gerd Müller (West Germany) 1970, 1974
  • 13 Just Fontaine (France) 1958
  • 12 Pelé (Brazil) 1958, 1962, 1966, 1970

That’s not to say that Messi cannot climb even further up the table at Qatar 2022, quite possibly his last World Cup. He is now just one goal behind Pelé's World Cup registry - a feat within reach.

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Batistuta.Stu ForsterGetty Images

Argentina’s all-time top scorers at the World Cup

  • 11 Messi 2006, 2014, 2018, 2022
  • 10 Gabriel Batistuta 1994, 1998, 2002
  • 8 Guillermo Stábile 1930
  • 8 Diego Maradona 1982, 1986, (1990), 1994
  • 6 Mario Kempes 1978

He has moved past Guillermo Stábile, who scored eight goals in just one edition - Uruguay 1930. And Stábile didn’t even play every match - he was on the bench for the first game against France, then went on to hit a hat trick against Mexico, braces against Chile and the USA and completed his own personal account with a goal against the hosts in the final.

Tied with Stábile on eight goals is Diego Maradona, who found the net in three World Cups - 1982, 1986 and 1994 but fired blanks at Italy 90.

With his first-half strike in the semi-final clash against Croatia, Messi has become Argentina’s top scorer in World Cups.


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