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Lionel Messi scores landmark 80th international goal in Argentina win

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Lionel Messi became the first South American player reach 80 goals in men’s international football as he scored the opener in Argentina’s World Cup qualifying 3-0 win over Uruguay.

Messi, who is yet to find his feet at Paris Saint-Germain since a seismic summer transfer, was presented with a plaque from the AFA for his milestone achievement. Clearly, they were expecting it to come sooner rather than later and had it ready.

The 34-year-old gave Argentina the lead against their neighbours when a ball into the penalty area aimed at Nicolas Gonzalez evaded everyone and nestled in the bottom corner of the goal.

Rodrigo de Paul doubled Argentina’s lead in the closing stages of the first half, while Messi later played a significant role in the build-up for Lautaro Martinez to make it 3-0.

Messi became the highest scoring South American in men’s football when he got his 78th international goal as part of a hat-trick against Bolivia last month, breaking the previous record of 77 held by Brazil legend and football icon Pele.

No other South American players have yet scored more than 70, with Neymar currently on 69 and Luis Suarez on 64, while Ronaldo retired with 62 goals for Brazil.

 Lionel Messi; Claudio Tapia

Having made his senior international debut in 2005, infamously getting sent off in a friendly against Hungary only minutes after coming off the bench, Messi got his first Argentina goal the following year when he scored in a 3-2 defeat against Switzerland.

He scored his first World Cup goal at 2006 when Argentina thrashed Serbia & Montenegro, while his first international hat-trick was also against Switzerland in 2012.