Barcelona forward Lionel Messi has become the most capped player in Argentina’s history after making his 148th appearance for his country in Tuesday’s 4-1 thumping of Bolivia.
The 34-year-old matched Javier Mascherano’s record last week and made it his own in emphatic fashion against Bolivia, racking up two goals and an assist to keep his team top of Group A at this summer’s Copa America.
Messi got proceedings underway with a gorgeous flick for Papu Gomez’s opening goal, and he got himself on the scoresheet from the penalty spot shortly after the half-hour mark following a foul on Gomez.
The Barcelona man saved the best for last, adding his second with a beautiful half-volleyed chip over Carlos Lampe to hand La Albiceleste an imposing lead before the break.
Erwin Saavedra pulled one back after half-time, but substitute Lautaro Martinez fired back immediately to seal a routine victory.
It was also the first time in 17 games that Messi had bagged twice in a single game for his country – a run stretching back to a friendly against Nicaragua in June 2019.
Messi took his international tally to 75 goals, moving him ahead of Indian legend Sunil Chhetri into ninth on the all-time scoring charts for men’s football, which is currently led by the 109 goals of both Cristiano Ronaldo and former Iran forward Ali Daei.
The 34-year-old will now have his sights set on breaking more records before this tournament comes to an end.
Should Argentina reach either the final or the third-placed play-off (and assuming Messi plays in every game), he would tie the record for most appearances in the history of the Copa America.
Chile goalkeeper Sergio Livingstone managed 34 between 1941 and 1953, so Messi needs just three more outings to tie that honour and would need to play in the 2024 tournament to make it his own.