Tuesday, 6 December, 2022
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Messi in the 100 club as Argentina streak continues

Messi in the 100 club as Argentina streak continues
Lionel Messi of Argentina celebrates his goal with teammate Joaquin Correa in the second half against Jamaica at Red Bull Arena in Harrison, New Jersey on Tuesday. –AFP PHOTO

Lionel Messi marked his 100th international victory with two goals as Argentina edged closer to Italy's world record unbeaten streak with a 3-0 defeat of Jamaica in a World Cup warm-up friendly in New Jersey on Tuesday.

Paris Saint-Germain superstar Messi took his international goals tally to 90 in 164 appearances after coming on as a second-half substitute at the Red Bull Arena.

Messi's goals capped an emphatic win for the South Americans, who have now gone 35 games unbeaten in a streak stretching back to 2019 - just two shy of Italy's world record unbeaten run of 37 set between 2018 and 2012.

Messi, who also scored twice during a friendly win over Honduras in Miami on Friday, delighted the crowd with an electrifying cameo after coming on in the 56th minute for Inter Milan's Lautaro Martinez.

He bagged his first of the night in the 86th minute, darting forward before caressing a shot into the bottom corner past Jamaica goalkeeper Andre Blake.

The 35-year-old seven-time Ballon D'Or winner then produced an impish second goal, craftily curling a low shot underneath the Jamaican wall into the bottom corner from a free-kick.

Messi's presence left the crowd in a frenzy. On three different occasions spectators sprinted onto the pitch in an effort to get close to the Argentinian icon.

One shirtless fan attempted to get Messi to autograph his back before he was bundled to the floor by security staff.

Messi's late double crowned another assured performance from Lionel Scaloni's Argentina, who are rapidly emerging as one of the favourites for the World Cup in Qatar in November.

The Argentinians had dominated throughout a one-sided first half, and took the lead on 13 minutes when Martinez jinked past Jamaica's Damion Lowe and cut back for Manchester City's Julian Alvarez, who tucked away a low finish from close range.

Alvarez almost had a second soon afterwards but curled his shot just wide.

Midfielder Guido Rodriguez also went close, but was unable to direct his volley at the back post on target, instead shooting over the bar.

Giovani Lo Celso also threatened with a long-range effort that flew just wide of the top corner in the 33rd minute.

Meanwhile, Richarlison responded angrily on Wednesday to racist abuse after he scored as Brazil thrashed Tunisia in a friendly in Paris.

"As long as you continue to "blah blah blah" and don't punish, it will continue like this, happening every day and in every corner. No time left, man!" he tweeted in Portuguese.

Richarlison was pelted with objects from the stands after putting Brazil ahead for the second time as they thrashed Tunisia 5-1 at Parc des Princes on Tuesday.

The Tottenham forward celebrated in front of the Tunisian supporters, who responded by throwing a banana and plastic cups in his direction.

Brazil midfielder Fred kicked the banana off the pitch, before extra security guards took up residence on the side of the field. Another Brazil scorer, Pedro responded to more boos and missiles from the crowd by bowing in front of them in celebration.

"It's a shame, it's difficult to see images like that," said Brazil captain Thiago Silva, whose team posed for a team photo before the match with a banner bearing an anti-racism message.