It was another very special occasion for Lionel Messi and Argentina as they celebrated their 2022 World Cup triumph with a memorable homecoming victory over Panama in Buenos Aires. “I always dreamed of this moment, celebrating with you,” an emotional Messi said after the match, and the unforgettable scenes saw him parade around the pitch with his family and the World Cup trophy.
Lionel Messi netted his 800th career goal in what was Argentina’s first match since winning the 2022 World Cup as they beat Panama 2-0 in an international friendly.
The 35-year-old became only the second player to reach the impressive milestone after his old rival, Cristiano Ronaldo. He now has a staggering 99 international goals to his name with 672 for Barcelona and 29 for Paris Saint-Germain.
In an emotional World Cup winners’ homecoming, Messi got on the scoresheet, much to the delight of the fans at the Monumental de Nunez Stadium in Buenos Aires as he and his team celebrated in style both before and after the match.
Thiago Almada scored the opening goal to prompt the initial celebrations before the atmosphere went up several notches further as Messi found the top-right corner with an exquisite free-kick in the 89th minute when it looked as though he may not mark the occasion with a fitting strike.
“I always dreamed of this moment, celebrating with you,” an emotional Messi said after the match as he paraded around the pitch with his family and the World Cup trophy.
If Messi can score another goal in Argentina’s upcoming friendly match against Curacao on Tuesday, he will reach the incredible landmark of 100 goals for the national team to follow their World Cup triumph.
Lionel Scaloni selected the same starting line-up from the World Cup final victory over France in Qatar in what seemed like a fitting tribute to that memorable occasion for the country.
Messi lifted the World Cup trophy in front of around 80,000 fans while his team-mates held aloft miniature versions of the same trophy. Fireworks were left off over the stadium as the victorious team took a slow victory lap.
He is already Argentina’s most-capped player with 172, and in terms of his record goal tally, legendary striker Gabriel Batistuta is a very distant second with 56 in 78 appearances.