Lionel Messi has scored his 79th international career goal for Argentina, surpassing the South American men’s record held by Brazil legend Pele.
Messi scored all three goals in Argentina’s 3-0 win over Bolivia on Thursday in a World Cup qualifying match at the Monumental stadium in Buenos Aires, giving him two more than Pele, who had 77 career goals in international play.
Messi trails Brazilian duo Marta (109) and Cristiane (96) for the overall record for most goals scored by any South American player at the international level.
Third on the men’s list is Messi’s Paris Saint-Germain teammate Neymar, who has 69 international goals for Brazil.
“I was very nervous, I just wanted to enjoy the night. I waited a long time for this,” an emotional Messi said after the match. “We won the game that was the most important thing and now we can celebrate.”
Three-time World Cup winner Pele remains in hospital due to surgery for a tumor on his colon on Monday, although the 80-year-old said the operation was a “great victory.”