When it comes to Lionel Messi, there are not enough superlatives to describe his brilliance.
That was the case following Messi’s magical performance in his record-breaking appearance for Argentina.
Two goals and one unbelievable assist to guide Argentina to a 4-1 rout of Bolivia at the Copa America on Monday.
Three goal involvements all in 45-minutes work for Messi, who shattered another record with his 148th international cap, surpassing former team-mate Javier Mascherano.
Already La Albiceleste’s all-time leading scorer, it was Messi’s first brace for Argentina in 18 games, dating back to August 2019. The 34-year-old also recorded his second two-goal outing in a Copa fixture.
Messi improved his international tally to 75, while netting his 11th and 12th career Copa goals – the fourth-highest scorer for Argentina at the showpiece CONMEBOL tournament.
At this stage of his remarkable career, no one should be surprised by the six-time Ballon d’Or winner.
However, Messi was simply incredible from the outset in a merciless display in the final Group A fixture in Cuiaba.
Messi – who has not missed a minute of Argentina’s four Copa games in 2021 so far – broke the internet in the sixth minute.
Angel Correa’s turn outside the penalty area sparked the move as the ball found the feet of Messi.
Messi’s back was towards goal, while the superstar captain was surrounded by at least three Bolivia defenders. But, we know how this movie ends.
He somehow scooped the ball to Alejandro Gomez and the evergreen veteran finished on the volley to cap an irresistible passage of play.
A Messi penalty followed just past the half-hour mark – the 34-year-old converting the spot-kick to get in on the action.
18 – Lionel Messi has scored a brace for Argentina for the first time in 18 games: his last brace had been in the 5-1 win against Nicaragua in August 2019. It’s the second time Messi scored 2+ goals in a game in the Copa América. Decisive. pic.twitter.com/RwNhoRZaqM
— OptaJoao (@OptaJoao) June 29, 2021
What happened next was even better.
Close friend Sergio Aguero, who will unite with Messi at Barcelona in 2021-22, was the architect. Manchester City’s all-time leading goalscorer playing a throughball approaching half-time.
Messi beat the offside trap and beat Bolivia goalkeeper Carlos Lampe with a superb lob in the 42nd minute.
If not for Lampe’s heroics, Messi – who completed a game-high 63 passes in the opponent’s half while attempting four shots on target (a Copa record) – would have finished the match with more than a hat-trick.
Regardless, it was a special display as Argentina extended their unbeaten streak to 17 matches (W10 D7) under Lionel Scaloni – the joint-third longest undefeated sequence of a coach in the country’s history, alongside Guillermo Stabile.
While Messi still covets an elusive international crown with Argentina, the famous number 10 celebrated his latest milestone only he knows how.