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Messi surpasses Pele’s South American men’s goal record

Lionel Messi scored his 79th international goal on Thursday night to break the South American men’s record held by Pele.

Messi scored all three goals in Argentina’s World Cup qualifying win over Bolivia in Buenos Aires, giving him two more goals than the legendary Brazilian star.

Only Brazilian stars Marta (109) and Cristiane (96) have scored more overall international goals than the Argentina star now as he claimed his spot as the top men’s goalscorer on the continent.

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“I really wanted to be able to enjoy it,” Messi said after the match. “I waited a long time for this, I looked for it and I dreamedof it. It’s a unique moment for the way it happened after so much waiting.

“There was no better way to celebrate this than to be here. My mother, my brothers are in the stands… They suffered a lot and today, they are here celebrating. I’m very happy.”

With the three goals on Thursday, Messi also surpassed former team-mate and long time friend Luis Suarez to become the leading scorer in CONMEBOL’s men’s World Cup qualifying.

He now has 26 career goals in qualifying, while the hat-trick also gives him eight career goals against Bolivia in 11 games, making them the opponent the Argentine has been most prolific against.

Messi has been Argentina’s most prolific scorer since 2016, when he surpassed Gabriel Batistuta (54 goals).

The Argentine helped lead his country to the Copa America title this summer, his first piece of major senior international silverware with his country.

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