Messi passes Pele as top South American scorer (Sports News) – Lionel Messi has overtaken Brazilian legend Pele to officially become the top international male goalscorer from South America. He accomplished this feat with a hat-trick performance in the Argentina-Bolivia World qualifier match on 9 September.
By scoring his first goal in the first half, the 34-year old Paris Saint-Germain-based striker was able to tie Pele’s 77-goal record. However, he took the extra step and claimed the sole title of top CONMEBOL goalscorer with two more netters in the second half, bringing his total to 79.
Messi Passes Pele - Game Recap
The feat was witnessed by a jubilant home crowd at the El Monumental Stadium in Buenos Aires. Messi opened the scoring early as he picked up the assist from Leandro Paredes and put in a left-footed curling strike from the penalty ardon 14 minutes. The goal, his 77th international one, had put him on equal footing with Pele. Lautaro Martinez appeared to have doubled the lead for the Albiceleste midway through the half, but the goal was ruled offside.
By the 64th minute, Messi sealed his place in history, as he and Joaquin Correa traded passes to break down the Bolivian defence until he got a clear shot from outside the box, making the score 2-0 in favour of Argentina.
Messi completed the hat-trick two minutes before full-time,when he buried a rebound parried by Bolivia keeper Carlos Lampe With 79 goals, he also the third top international goalscorer from South America overall; his record is topped by female Brazilian footballers Marta (109 goals) and Cristiane (96 goals).
Messi Passes Pele - His Statement
After the game ended, the former Barcelona superstar cried tears of joy and danced with the Argentina squad on the pitch. The team also brought out the Copa America trophy they had won this summer, to the delight of their supporters.
“I really wanted to be able to enjoy it,” said the six-time Ballon d’Or winner. “I waited a long time for this, I looked for it and I dreamed of it. It’s a unique moment for the way it happened after so much waiting.
“There was no better way to celebrate this than to be here. My mother, my brothers are in the stands. They suffered a lot and today, they are here celebrating. I’m very happy,” added the Argentina talisman.
Messi Passes Pele - "Argentina Clause"
His recent stint with the Argentinian team puts in effect the so-called “Argentina clause” of his signing with new club Paris Saint-Germain. Under his two year contract with the French club, international games will be a priority over club matches. This means that Messi will miss out on PSG’s upcoming clash with Clermont on Saturday 11 September.
Messi had already made his PSG debut in 2-0 winner with Reims. He came off the bench in the second half, and while he did not score a goal, viewing records for Ligue 1 were broken as interest in Messi’s game was sky-high.
“He brought a calmness to the team,” shared PSG manager Mauricio Pochettino. “he welcome, it was something beautiful to see and hear from our supporters, but also from Reims fans. Messi was very happy about it.”
“His presence brings optimism. Everyone feels it. It has an influence on the players,” Pochettino added.
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