Sunday , June 16 2024

Lionel Messi nets his 50th international goal against Bolivia

Lionel Messi scored his 50th international goal to help Argentina beat Bolivia 2-0 in their 2018 World Cup qualifier on Tuesday.

The win put Argentina third in the South American group with 11 points from six matches, two points behind joint-leaders Ecuador and Uruguay.

Defender Gabriel Mercado, who scored the winner in Thursday’s 2-1 away victory over Chile, opened the scoring in the 21st minute against Bolivia.

Argentina were awarded a penalty in the 29th minute after Ronald Eguino fouled midfielder Ever Banega and Messi made no mistake from the spot to move within six goals of Gabriel Batistuta’s record.

‘This (campaign) is very long and what’s important is that we won and remain on course,’ Messi told TyC Sports. ‘I’m happy with goal number 50 but more because we won and this helps to keep growing.

‘It was fundamental to get the six points,’ Argentina coach Gerardo Martino said of the two wins. ‘I think we played a serious match and won well.’

Argentina could have gone ahead after 10 seconds with a quick attack down the left from the kick-off but Angel di Maria’s shot was blocked by goalkeeper Carlos Lampe and Banega hit the bar with the rebound.

Paris Saint-Germian star Di Maria limped off after half an hour and was replaced by Angel Correa.

Argentina squandered several other chances to score against a side they put 12 goals past in two friendlies last year.

Messi, who is now on 499 career goals for his country and Barcelona, also wowed the Cordoba crowd with a brilliant dribble late in the game that took him past four players.

Argentina are a point ahead of Colombia and Chile, who came from behind to beat Venezuela 4-1.

The top four teams in the 10-nation group qualify for the 2018 World Cup finals, while the fifth-placed side goes into an intercontinental play-off.

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