Lionel Messi scored all five goals as Argentina made it 33 matches unbeaten with a 5-0 friendly win over Estonia on Sunday.
Coach Lionel Scaloni’s side set a new national record of 32 matches unbeaten with the 3-0 Finalissima win over Italy on Wednesday, and they never looked like failing to extend that run – the longest currently intact in international football – against a limited Estonia outfit.
Messi got them on their way from the penalty spot, before doubling his tally with a sumptuous finish on the stroke of half-time.
He completed a treble early in the second half, before adding further goals inside the final 20 minutes as Argentina cruised to victory at Estadio El Sadar in Pamplona, Spain.
Argentina wasted little time in stamping their authority on the game, Messi stroking home from the spot in the eighth minute after Estonia goalkeeper Matvei Igonen wiped out German Pezzella.
Messi grabbed his second in the 45th minute, the Paris Saint-Germain forward superbly curling over Igonen from 10 yards after being played in by Alejandro Gomez.
Argentina’s captain and talisman sealed a hat-trick two minutes after the interval.
He steered home Nahuel Molina’s cross from the right wing from 10 yards.
Julian Alvarez and Rodrigo de Paul went close for La Albiceleste, before Messi netted a fourth with a cool finish past Igonen in the 71st minute after taking advantage of uncertainty in the Estonia defence.
He put the seal on a remarkable individual performance to make it 5-0 five minutes later.
And slotting home from 12 yards after a scramble in the opposition penalty area.
What does it mean? Argentina lay down World Cup marker.
Despite not winning the World Cup since 1986, Argentina are among the favourites to triumph in Qatar later this year.
They will need to overcome significantly sterner opposition than Estonia to get their hands on the trophy.
Yet all the signs point to them being a side to be reckoned with, particularly if Messi plays like this.
He had a subdued season with PSG, scoring just 11 goals across all competitions.
But Messi was at his electric best here. The 34-year-old scored with all five of his shots on target.
While he also made three key passes – a tally bettered only by team-mate Alejandro Gomez.
New Manchester City signing Alvarez will hope Messi’s finishing prowess rubs off on him.
The 22-year-old failing to find the back of the net with his four shots – three of which were on target.
Argentina’s attention turns towards Qatar 2022, although their warm-up games for the tournament have yet to be scheduled.
While Estonia face Malta in the Nations League on Thursday.
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