Lionel Messi, appearing in Argentina jersey for the first time since winning the World Cup in Qatar, received a hero’s welcome at the Monumental Stadium in Buenos Aires on Thursday.
Playing Panama in a friendly, Argentina did not get the lead until the 78th minute, when Thiago Almada put Argentina 1-0 lead by scoring from the rebound of a Messi free-kick.
Ten minutes later, Messi would complete his 800th career goal, executing a free kick. He now has 99 goals for Argentina.
After the win, Messi and his teammates received a standing ovation from a capacity Monumental Stadium crowd.
“I always dreamed of this moment, coming to Argentina and lifting the Copa America, the Finalissima and the biggest thing, which is the World Cup,” said Messi after the match.
When it was coach Lionel Scaloni’s turn to speak, the first thing he did was lead the packed stadium in a chant praising Messi. “Eternally grateful to this group of players,” Scaloni said.
The La Albiceleste players were later joined by their families to lift the replica of the World Cup trophy in celebration. The players then took a lap of honour around the pitch waving to fans as fireworks lit the night sky.