Messi hat-trick breaks Pele's South American goal-scoring record

Argentina's talisman Lionel Messi went past Pele's tally off 77 international goals with a hat-trick against Bolivia in the World Cup qualifier on Friday.

Lionel Messi broke Pele's tally off 77 goals with a hat-trick against Bolivia on Friday.   -  AP

Argentina captain Lionel Messi's hat-trick against Bolivia elevated him as South America's leading men's international goal-scorer, eclipsing Brazilian great Pele on Friday.

Messi opened the scoring in the 14th minute in Argentina's World Cup qualifier with a curling strike to the left corner from outside the box and equalled Pele's tally of 77 international goals in the process.

He followed up with another close-in strike in the 64th minute to move past Pele's tally. Messi eventually romped to another hat-trick with a 87th minute strike as Argentina thrashed Bolivia 3-0 in Buenos Aires. The Argentine legend is now sixth on the all-time list of leading international goal-scorers among men.

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The 34-year-old's 79 goals comes from 153 appearances for his country. Messi's long-time rival Cristiano Ronaldo leads the goal charts by a fair distance, having recorded 111 goals in 180 games for Portugal.

Messi's Paris Saint-Germain teammate, Neymar is third among the leading goal-scorers from the continent, having accounted for 68 goals from 112 appearances for Brazil.

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