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Lionel hit yet another milestone in his glittering career by scoring his 800th career goal for his country in a 2-0 friendly win over Panama on Thursday evening.
During Argentina’s first game at home since winning the World Cup in Qatar, Lionel Messi fought back tears as the team was serenaded by the country’s passionate support.
The South American team won their third championship earlier this season, with Messi’s heroics propelling them to victory over France. That was their first victory since 1986, during the time of Diego Maradona.
In December, it sparked wild celebrations across the nation, and the team returned to Buenos Aires to join in. While club play temporarily halted the festivities, they resumed in earnest on Thursday evening, Argentina’s first return to the field since winning the World Cup.
Emi Martinez, goalkeeper for Aston Villa and hero of the World Cup final game against France, was unable to conceal his emotions as he wept in response to the fans’ reception.
Others, like Rodrigo de Paul and manager Scaloni, embraced their youngsters prior to kickoff.
Messi Hits Number 800 with Sensational Free Kick
Argentina defeated Panama by a score of 2-0, maintaining its positive disposition throughout the encounter. Thiago Almada scored the scoring in the 78th minute of the match before Messi stole the show with a spectacular free-kick in the final minute.
The goal was the 800th of the Paris Saint Germain attacker’s club and international career.
It was his 99th goal for Argentina, whereas he has scored 672 and 29 goals in his club career playing for Barcelona and PSG, respectively.
Fans and players alike toasted Argentina’s World Cup victory following the final whistle at El Monumental. Each player received a replica of the World Cup to commemorate the victory.
Messi: ‘I Always Dreamed Of This Moment’
Messi then addressed the fans and expressed gratitude for their support.
“I always dreamed of this moment and to celebrate with you,” the superstar footballer said.
“With my country, Argentina. I don’t want to forget all the teammates I had before because we also did everything possible to get it. Let’s enjoy the third star.”
A vast array of Panama players also tried their best to get photos with the 35-year-old at the full-time whistle before he was joined by his wife and children on the pitch. The fans continued to serenade him for plenty of time after the game, with boss Scaloni also joining in with the chants.
Messi was also urged to participate in the post-match dancing, but he resisted before raising his index finger and wagging it to politely decline their request.
Away from Messi, goalkeeper Martinez continued to create headlines as he replicated his contentious World Cup final celebration by lifting the trophy to his groin, with a number of his colleagues joining in the fun.
Argentina will return to action on Tuesday evening against Curacao in another friendly international match.
In recent weeks Messi has been linked with a big money move to the Saudi Arabian football league club, Al-Hilal.
If reports are to be believed, he would join fellow superstar Cristiano Ronaldo there for the final years for his footballing career.