Lionel Messi has added another record to his long list of milestone achievements after scoring a hat trick in Argentina’s 3-0 victory over Bolivia in a 2022 FIFA World Cup qualifier on Thursday.

The treble by Messi sees him overtake Pele as the top international goalscorer in South American football history. The goals scored by Messi in Thursday night’s tie were his 77th, 78th and 79th international goals respectively.

Aside from adding to his goal-scoring records, Messi’s efforts have also helped keep Argentina firmly on course for a place at next year’s World Cup finals in Qatar.

The win leaves the two-time World Cup winners second in South America’s overall qualifying standings with 18 points from eight games.

Thursday’s outing was Messi’s 153rd appearance for Argentina and the 34-year-old Paris Saint-Germain forward was quick to show his intentions.

Messi caught up with Pele on 77 goals when he fired his team into the lead in the 14th minute; nutmegging a defender and then curling a sublime shot past Bolivia goalkeeper Carlos Lampe.

Argentina’s captain, Messi then moved one clear of Pele in the 64th minute with his second of the night before he completed the seventh international hat-trick of his career two minutes from time.

While Messi is now king in South America, he is still way behind his fierce rival, Cristiano Ronaldo, who holds the outright record for goals scored in men’s international football with 111 goals from 180 games.

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