World Cup Qualifiers - CONMEBOL

World Cup Qualifiers - CONMEBOL (14)

Lionel Messi is leaving behind a legacy for Argentina after surpassing Pele as the all-time leading goalscorer for a South American nation, according to "proud" head coach Lionel Scaloni.

The six-time Ballon d'Or winner scored a hat-trick in Thursday's 3-0 World Cup qualifying win over Bolivia to overtake Brazil great Pele as CONMEBOL's top-scoring player.

Messi's 79 goals for Argentina have come in 153 appearances, compared to 77 in 92 caps for Pele, who had held the record since retiring from international duty in 1971.

It is the latest on a long list of records to have been broken by the ex-Barcelona star for club and country, and it comes two months after helping Argentina to win the Copa America.

La Albiceleste paraded the trophy – their first in 28 years – around the pitch at the Monumental at full-time and an emotional Messi broke down in tears.

Scaloni embraced Messi on the field and later hailed the Paris Saint-Germain forward for continuing to prove decisive for his country following his latest treble.

"I am proud to have him as a player. Messi is leaving a legacy to all the soccer players of the national team," Scaloni said at his post-match news conference.

"Messi was always a player who made a difference. Before and now. Winning magnified everything, and if before he was already an idol of the people, now it is much more. 

"Seeing them excited fills us with joy, but it lasts [only] until this international window is over, because afterwards we have to continue working."

 

Messi's hat-trick was his seventh for Argentina but his first on home soil and it helped extend his country's unbeaten run to 22 matches in a run stretching back to July 2019.

He is the only Argentina player to have scored multiple hat-tricks in World Cup qualifying.

Scaloni's men are second in the 10-team qualifying group, six points behind Brazil, whom they still have to face after last week's high-profile clash was controversially suspended.

Argentina also defeated Venezuela 3-1 in the same international window and Scaloni is pleased with what he has seen over the past week.

"I think we have a line of work from day one and we have grown," he said. "We've improved and corrected things even when we've won.

"This team has sacrifice, humility and an ability to unbalance other players in one-on-one situations."

Neymar complained he does not get the respect he deserves after breaking another record to help Brazil remain perfect in their World Cup qualifying campaign.

The Paris Saint-Germain forward scored a tap-in having earlier set up Everton Ribeiro as Brazil saw off Peru 2-0 in Recife on Thursday.

That was the Selecao's eighth win from eight matches on the road to Qatar 2022 and ninth qualifying victory in a row overall, which equalled the longest streak in CONMEBOL history.

Neymar's strike saw him overtake Romario and Zico as Brazil's highest scorer in World Cup qualifiers on 12 goals, half of those coming in the current campaign.

He is also now just eight behind legendary forward Pele's all-time record of 77 goals for Brazil, scoring his 69 goals in 113 appearances.

But after coming in for more criticism following Brazil's 1-0 win over Chile last week, with some suggesting he was overweight, Neymar has hit back at his critics.

"Obviously, the team is the most important," he told TV Globo. 

"I'm very happy to be the top scorer in the qualifiers, have the most assists for the national team and soon, if all goes well, it will be an honour to pass Pele as the all-time scorer.

"I don't know anymore what I have to do for people to respect me. This is normal, it's been a long time. Reporters, commentators, others too.

"Sometimes I don't even like to talk in interviews anymore, but at an important moment I come to show up. I leave it to the guys to think a little bit."

 

With their latest victory, Brazil are the first South American team in qualifying history to keep nine consecutive clean sheets at home.

Tite's men remain six points clear of second-placed Argentina, who beat Bolivia 3-0 thanks to a Lionel Messi hat-trick, and are on the verge of sealing a spot at Qatar 2022.

"It's another good result and our winning sequence continues but we haven't mathematically qualified yet," Casemiro added. 

"We have to continue to work hard but we know that we're on the right track."

Brazil, whose high-profile match with Argentina last Sunday was farcically suspended early in the game, return to action in early October with a trip to bottom side Venezuela.

Lionel Messi was overcome with emotion as he fulfilled a "dream" by eclipsing Brazil great Pele as the all-time leading scorer for a South American nation.

Messi scored a hat-trick as Argentina cruised to a 3-0 victory over Bolivia in Thursday's CONMEBOL World Cup qualifier and those goals took him past Pele.

His first, a curling effort after a cheeky nutmeg, saw him go level with Pele on 77, before a close-range finish just past the hour saw him set a new record.

He then added another for good measure at the end to complete his hat-trick and reach 79 goals for Argentina on a momentous night at the Monumental.

With La Albiceleste also finally able to celebrate July's Copa America triumph – a first in 28 years – in front of their own supporters at full-time, record-breaker Messi failed to hold back the tears.

"I have dreamed of this for a long time and I thank God it was given to me," he said on the pitch afterwards.

 

"It is a unique moment because of how it happened and after so much waiting.

"There was no better way for it to be and to be able to be here, celebrating, is something incredible.

"My mother and my brothers are up there, they suffered a lot too. I'm very happy."

It was Messi's seventh hat-trick for his country, but his first on home soil and ensured Argentina extended their unbeaten run to 22 matches, a streak that began in 2019.

It was further proof that Argentina are building themselves back up to a standard many associate with the two-time World Cup winners after a poor showing at Russia 2018, a tournament that essentially led to a reset.

Messi's international future at the time was in doubt as he took an extended break from international football – back then, many would have suggested Pele's record looked set to outlast Argentina's talisman.

"I cannot do more than be so happy, for my family who is watching me and for all Argentines," Messi continued.

"I always say individual awards are secondary, because we are here for something else, but the truth is I am very excited."

Neymar scored one and set up another as Brazil maintained their perfect record in CONMEBOL 2022 World Cup qualifying with a 2-0 victory over Peru in Recife on Thursday.

Playing for the first time since Sunday's qualifier against Argentina was controversially suspended mid-game, Selecao netted twice in a lively first half to set up the win.

Brazil's opener came in the 14th minute when Neymar laid off for Everton Ribeiro, who scored the winner in last week's 1-0 triumph in Chile.

Neymar grabbed the second goal five minutes before the break, the Paris Saint-Germain star tapping home from close range as Brazil made it eight wins from eight games on the road to Qatar 2022.

On a night when Argentina's Lionel Messi overtook Pele as the leading goalscorer in South American history with a hat-trick, Neymar's strike took him to 69 for Brazil, moving within eight of the Brazil great.

Both sides had early chances in a lively opening, with Gabriel 'Gabigol' Barbosa having an effort blocked while Gianluca Lapadula shot over for Peru.

Peru goalkeeper Pedro Gallese made a strong save with his left arm as Gerson broke forward, firing on target on his left.

Brazil broke the deadlock in controversial circumstances after Neymar bundled over Anderson Santamaria and raced down the byline to centre for in-form team-mate Ribeiro to side-foot home – Peru's protests fell on deaf ears.

Lucas Paqueta almost doubled Brazil's advantage with a 34th-minute chance, before Neymar scored Selecao's second goal six minutes later.

Danilo passed for Gabigol, whose cutback fell to Ribeiro. The Flamengo midfielder's shot was blocked into Neymar's path for a point-blank finish.

Peru substitute Gabriel Costa's 72nd-minute cross-cum-shot tested Brazil goalkeeper Everton as the depleted hosts, missing several key players unable who were not released by their Premier League clubs, seemed content with the victory.

Veteran Brazil substitute Hulk rounded Gallese late but blasted wide on his preferred left foot.

Lionel Messi became the all-time leading goalscorer in CONMEBOL history after his hat-trick guided Argentina past Bolivia 3-0 in World Cup qualifying.

Messi broke Pele's record as the top-scoring player for a South American nation thanks to his 78th and 79th international goals on Thursday.

The 34-year-old Argentina superstar moved level with Brazil great Pele (77) after opening the scoring in the 14th minute before moving top in the history books with his 64th-minute effort in Buenos Aires, where he completed his hat-trick during the closing stages.

Lionel Scaloni's second-placed Argentina remain unbeaten on the road to Qatar 2022 with five wins from their eight fixtures, while they extended their undefeated streak to 22 matches across all competitions.

Copa America champions Argentina were back in action after their blockbuster showdown with rivals Brazil was abandoned in chaotic scenes in Sao Paulo on Sunday.

The top-of-the-table fixture was halted following an apparent breach of coronavirus regulations, Argentina naming three Premier League players in their starting line-up – Aston Villa goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez and Tottenham pair Cristian Romero and Giovani Lo Celso.

Martinez, Romero and Lo Celso were not involved against Bolivia as Argentina looked to continue their dominance, with the South American champions having never lost to La Verde in 15 home games in all competitions (W13, D2).

Argentina were on the front foot from the outset and opened the scoring through their talisman Messi after 15 minutes – the superstar nutmegging his opponent before curling his shot into the net.

Lautaro Martinez thought he had scored 12 minutes later, however, the Argentina forward was ruled offside.

Martinez then wasted a glorious chance in the 39th minute, side-footing a shot just wide of the post after being teed up by Messi following his run into the penalty area.

Argentina had more opportunities to extend their lead prior to half-time, but Messi saw his curling effort sail agonisingly wide of the woodwork, while Bolivia goalkeeper Carlos Lampe was fortunate not to concede in the third minute of stoppage time having emerged off his line.

Bolivia spent more time in Argentina's half in the second period, but never really troubled the home side, who doubled their lead just past the hour-mark.

Messi capped a superb team move, finding the back of the net from close range in the 65th minute as he celebrated history in front of fans, and he ended the night with a three-goal haul after pouncing on a rebound with two minutes of regulation remaining.

Argentina superstar Lionel Messi created more history, surpassing Pele as the all-time leading goalscorer for a South American nation on Thursday.

Messi scored his 78th international goal for Argentina in their World Cup qualifier against Bolivia, breaking the record held by Brazil great Pele.

A six-time Ballon d'Or winner, Messi had moved level with Pele with his opening goal of the match on Thursday before his brace sent him clear in the record books.

Messi produced a moment of magic in the 14th minute, playing the ball through his opponent's legs before curling a shot past the goalkeeper in Buenos Aires, where the 34-year-old then made history in the 64th minute to give the hosts a 2-0 lead.

Next on the list of leading CONMEBOL scorers after Messi is Pele (77), then Uruguay's Luis Suarez (64), followed by Chile forward Alexis Sanchez (46) and Peru star Paolo Guerrero (38).

It is not the first time Messi has eclipsed Pele, having surpassed the Santos icon with the most goals for an individual club with his 644th in Barcelona colours in December.

It comes after Messi guided Argentina to Copa America glory in July, ending the country's 28-year wait for silverware with his first senior international crown.

 

Lionel Messi has equalled Brazil great Pele's record as the top-scoring player of all time for a South American nation with his 77th goal for Argentina.

The 34-year-old equalled the long-standing record when he opened the scoring for Argentina in their World Cup qualifier against Bolivia on Thursday.

Messi produced a moment of magic in the 15th minute, playing the ball through his opponent's legs before curling a shot past the goalkeeper in Buenos Aires.

Next on the list of leading CONMEBOL scorers after Messi and Pele is Uruguay's Luis Suarez (64), followed by Chile forward Alexis Sanchez (46) and Peru star Paolo Guerrero (38).

Messi is now poised to eclipse Pele and not for the first time, having surpassed the Santos icon with the most goals for an individual club with his 644th in Barcelona colours in December.

It comes after Messi guided Argentina to Copa America glory in July, ending the country's 28-year wait for silverware with his first senior international crown.

 

Brazil coach Tite feels Argentina showed a lack of respect in the decision-making process that saw four players allegedly breach coronavirus regulations ahead of Sunday's doomed World Cup qualifier.

The fixture was suspended mid-game due to Argentina's Premier League players apparently flouting Brazil's coronavirus restrictions.

Emiliano Martinez, Cristian Romero and Giovani Lo Celso started the match, with Brazilian health officials entering the pitch after the game had kicked off. A melee ensued before Argentina left the field and did not return.

Due to the pandemic, Brazil is temporarily restricting entry to travellers from the United Kingdom if they have spent time in the country within the previous two weeks. The Selecao had attempted to call up nine players from the English top flight, but none of those selected travelled as Premier League clubs united in an agreement not to release players.

FIFA has since launched an investigation into the match's interruption, with disciplinary cases opened against the national associations of both Argentina and Brazil.

While Tite would rather the health officials had not stormed the pitch, he also believes football should not think it is above the law.

Asked what would be the "fair" decision regarding the outcome of the match, he said: "The fair decision is to respect the laws. The fair decision is to put people's health first. The fair decision is that sport is important but has a scale of importance on which health is higher. The laws are above this [football].

"I wish the game had happened, [but] we need laws, and to respect those laws. Football is not above that. It has to be respected. We're dealing with lives. It's about health.

"Coming here and going over laws and circumventing situations ... this does not happen. Of course I'd like the game to have happened.

"I cannot judge what happened. I do not know enough to know what was done and at what time it was done. I cannot judge it and I should not judge it.

"But to be above the law, you have to have a little respect. Respect for the entity, for a country, for its people, for a club, for a national team. Calm and respect."

Lionel Messi reflected on his "special" Copa America triumph after fulfilling a dream, having been treated as a "failure" with Argentina.

Messi guided Argentina to their first trophy in 28 years – La Albiceleste dethroning defending champions and hosts Brazil in July's Copa final.

For Messi, it ended years of heartache and near misses after the superstar Argentina captain finished runner-up in the Copa America three times (2007, 2015 and 2016) as well as a beaten finalist at the 2014 World Cup.

As Argentina prepare for Thursday's CONMEBOL World Cup qualifier against Bolivia, six-time Ballon d'Or winner Messi discussed his first senior international crown.

"After so much suffering, lifting something with the national team was special," Paris Saint-Germain's Messi – Argentina's all-time leading goalscorer and most-capped player – told ESPN. "There was a part of the journalists that treated me as a failure and that I didn't feel the shirt.

"Everything I won was important, I was lucky to have won a lot of things in a row at my club and very fast and the blows came later.

"With the national team, it was blow after blow, that made it more important now. It cost a lot to get it.

"When we won, I couldn't believe it. I dreamed it so much that I didn't understand what was happening. Honestly, I enjoy it more now when I see the images than that moment."

Messi won a club-record 35 trophies at Camp Nou – including 10 LaLiga titles and four Champions Leagues – before sensationally leaving Barcelona for PSG on a free transfer in 2021-22.

"I don't know where I'd place it [Copa America triumph]. Everything I won was important but this was the most difficult," Messi said.

"A lot of things happened and I won very quickly at Barcelona. At the national team, it was one hit after another."

Argentina are in the midst of a 21-match unbeaten streak – dating back to 2019 – after Sunday's blockbuster clash against Brazil was abandoned following an apparent breach of coronavirus regulations.

Lionel Scaloni's Argentina are undefeated on the road to Qatar 2022 and Messi added: "You have to start by recognising that we are not the best in the world.

"We were not the worst before and we are not the best now."

FIFA has opened disciplinary proceedings against Brazil and Argentina after the suspended World Cup qualifier on Sunday.

The fixture came to a halt following an alleged breach of coronavirus regulations by Argentina relating to Premier League players.

Emiliano Martinez, Cristian Romero and Giovani Lo Celso started the match, leading to Brazilian health officials to act by entering the pitch after the game had kicked off. A melee ensued before Argentina left the field and did not return.

Brazil restricts entry to travellers from the United Kingdom if they have spent time in the country within the previous two weeks. The Selecao had attempted to call up nine players from the English top flight, but none of those selected travelled as Premier League clubs united in an agreement not to release players.

FIFA started investigations into the scenes on Monday, with world football's governing body then confirming disciplinary cases had been opened against the two national associations.

"Following the analysis of the official match reports related to the FIFA World Cup qualifier match between Brazil and Argentina, FIFA can confirm that disciplinary proceedings have been opened involving both member associations," the statement said.

"The two teams were asked to provide further information on the facts that led to the suspension of the match, which will be gathered and then thoroughly reviewed by FIFA's disciplinary committee.

"Updates will follow in due course."

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