Lionel Messi scored a superb hat-trick in a 3-0 win against Bolivia, giving him 79 goals for Argentina and taking him past Pele’s haul for Brazil of 77 goals in Argentina’s bid to reach the World Cup finals in Qatar.
Messi matched Pele when he opened the scoring in the 14th minute with a shot from outside the box.
He broke the record by dribbling past a defender for his second in the 64th minute, and added his third from a rebound two minutes from the end.
Messi has now scored 79 goals in 153 international caps and now trails Cristiano Ronaldo’s record of 111 by 32.
Messi’s Paris St Germain teammate Neymar sits third on the South American list with 68 goals.
The Argentine skipper, 34, broke down in tears after the match when the team presented their Copa America title to home fans for the first time.
“I was very nervous, I just wanted to enjoy the night. I waited a long time for this. We won the game that was the most important thing and now we can celebrate”. He said.