Barcelona captain Lionel Messi overtook Cristiano Ronaldo for free-kick goals and closed in on Diego Maradona’s record with his superb strike for Argentina against Chile in the Copa America on Monday.
Messi netted the opening goal of the clash in Rio de Janeiro after 33 minutes with a brilliant effort that took his free-kick tally for club and country to 57, moving past Ronaldo who has scored 56, as shown by Goal.
The goal also means Messi is now just five goals behind Maradona’s record of 62 free-kick goals, according to Adriana Garcia at ESPN. Argentina paid tribute to Maradona before the game.
Messi even celebrated in the same way as Maradona after scoring his goal. The 33-year-old leapt up and punched the air, and there was no mistaking the similarity between the two Argentine legends, as highlighted by journalist Alex Truica.
Yet Messi’s goal was not enough to hand Argentina a first win at the Copa America. Chile leveled in the second half through Eduardo Vargas who headed home after Arturo Vidal’s penalty had been saved.
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More Records For Messi
Messi’s record becomes even more impressive when you consider the forward didn’t even take free-kicks regularly at the start of his career. Ronaldinho was in charge of set-pieces at Barcelona and Messi took some time to hone his technique.
Barcelona shared footage of Messi’s first free-kick goal which came a decade ago in a 6-1 demolition of Atletico Madrid.
Messi often seems to hit a new landmark or set a new record with every goal he scores, but he certainly made more history on Monday. The captain’s goal saw him overtake Gabriel Batistuta as the all-time top goal-scorer for Argentina in official matches.
The 33-year-old moves onto 39 goals in competitive matches for the national side, one ahead of the former striker. Messi is already Argentina’s all-time leading goalscorer and now has 73 goals in all competitions from 151 appearances.
His strike also brought another record into view. Messi is now just four behind equaling Brazil legend Pele’s record of international goals. The Brazilian scored 77 goals in 92 games before hanging up his boots.
Messi Talks ‘Complicated’ Match
Messi offered his thoughts on the match and said the game became “complicated” as Chile fought back to snatch a draw. The skipper also spoke about how his team should have showed more composure, as reported by The Guardian.
“This match got complicated for us,” he said. “We needed to be calm, have control of possession and play more quickly. The penalty changed the match, too.”
Yet there was praise for Messi from a familiar face. Chile goalkeeper and former Barcelona stopper Claudio Bravo spoke about the Argentine after the match, as reported by La Tercera.
“Messi has a strike that few have in the world. He has a different precision from the rest,” he said. “I had to suffer today. Football is like that. One enjoys himself when you face the best players, when they test you.”
The Barcelona captain will come up against another familar face next time out. Argentina takes on Uruguay next which will see Messi face former Barcelona teammate Luis Suarez.
Messi admitted it will be another tough game for Argentina. He added, “Now we have Uruguay, another complicated game. That is why we needed to have started with a victory.”