Lionel Messi's hat-trick against Bolivia propelled him to the top of South America's men's international goal scorers, surpassing Brazilian legend Pele. Messi equaled Pele's total of 77 international goals by opening the scoring in Argentina's World Cup qualifier in the 14th minute with a curling shot to the left corner from beyond the box. He equaled the achievement of the previous world champion when he assisted Argentina in breaking the tie in the 14th minute, and then exceeded him when he scored in the 64th minute. Argentina beat Bolivia 3-0 in Buenos Aires, with Messi completing his hat-trick in the 87th minute. The Argentine captain is now ranked sixth all-time among men's international goal scorers.
Before this match, only two goals were required for the 2021 Copa America champion to pass Pele as the league's all-time leading scorer. Messi scored his 77th, 78th, and 79th international goals to put Argentina on pace to qualify for next year's World Cup in Qatar, where they will face a bottom-of-the-table Bolivian team. The 34-year-old striker tied Pele's long-standing record by nutmegging a defender and firing a stunning shot past Bolivia goalkeeper Carlos Lampe in his 153rd appearance for Argentina.