Paris Saint-Germain teammates Neymar and Lionel Messi both set scoring records Friday (IST), as Brazil and Argentina continued their march towards next year’s World Cup.
The captain of Argentina scored a stunning hat-trick against Bolivia, while Neymar scored one and set up another goal as Brazil defeated Peru 2-0.
Messi looked radiant in front of 21,000 people at the Monumental stadium, Buenos Aires. He had just surpassed Brazil legend Pele to become South America’s highest scoring international football player.
In the 14th minute, the former Barcelona forward gave hosts the lead by nutmegging Luis Haquin. He then curls a stunning 25-yard effort into top left corner.
Just after the hour mark, Messi doubled his score. He exchanged passes twice with Lautaro Martinez, before dribbling around Jairo Quiteros and hitting a stunning shot past Carlos Lampe, Xinhua reports.
Two minutes later, the third goal was scored when the ball bounced in his direction after Lampe had stopped Joaquin Correa from attempting a long-range shot. No. 10 Albiceleste was there to help. 10, was there to send the first attempt into an unguarded net.
Messi now has 79 goals in 153 matches for Argentina. This surpasses the mark set by Pele, who scored 77 goals in 92 matches.
Messi stated that he was anxious about the partial reopening in Argentina of its stadiums following an 18-month coronavirus ban.
The 34-year old politely answered questions about his scoring record and said that individual awards were “secondary”.
Argentina is currently second in the South American 10-team group with 18 points from 8 qualifiers, while Bolivia has six points from 9 outings.
Neymar performed admirably in Recife, a northeastern Brazilian city. Brazil maintained their perfect qualifying record.
Everton Ribeiro scored a second consecutive goal, scoring a first-time effort following Neymar’s dispossessed Anderson Santamaria. He also provided a perfect cross from the penalty area left.
Just before the half-time break, the hosts scored their second goal. Ribeiro and Neymar were again the creators. Flamengo’s midfielder hit a long-range shot that bounced off Santamaria, but fell to the feet of PSG attacker who scored at the far end.
Neymar’s strike saw him surpass Romario, Zico and become Brazil’s top scorer in World Cup qualifying matches with 12 goals.
“It’s a great record. “It’s an honor, but the most important thing was the win today,” Neymar said to television reporters after the match.
Brazil’s Pernambuco Arena win means that they now have eight wins in as many qualifying matches and are within reach of the showpiece tournament.
Casemiro, a midfielder, said that “it’s another positive result and our winning streak continues but we haven’t mathematically qualified yet.” “We need to keep working hard, but we know we are on the right track. Brazil leads the South American zone standings. Peru is seventh, five points behind the qualification places.
Other qualifiers were held on Thursday: Colombia defeated Chile 3-1 in Barranquilla; Paraguay beat Venezuela 2-1 In Asuncion; Uruguay won a 1-0 home victory over Ecuador.
Neymar sent Pele his best wishes while the Brazil legend is recovering from surgery to remove his colon tumour.
The procedure was performed at Sao Paulo’s Albert Einstein hospital on September 4, and the doctors have not yet publicly announced when he will be discharged.
After Brazil’s victory over Peru, Neymar stated that “Pele”, he hoped to recover quickly and be able to continue following the national team.
“I believe that you will overcome this. You’re a fighter, I know. Pele expressed his gratitude to fans via social media on Wednesday and stated that he was “recovering well”.
Since 2012, the three-time World Cup champion has struggled with a variety of health issues. He has not been seen in public since his hip replacement surgery.