He scored a gorgeous second with a 25-yard free kick just nine minutes later and then with some fancy footwork in the box gave himself enough space to slot home his third and Argentina’s fourth in the 86th minute.
Angel Di Maria’s injury is not as bad as first feared, according to Argentina’s team doctor. Messi is also only the 2 player to record a hat trick after coming on as a sub. He now has a tally of 53 global goals and needs to score just three more to join former striker Gabriel Batistuta as the highest ever scorer for the 14-time Copa America champions.
The top-ranked team remained dominated throughout the match, with defender Nicolas Otamendi giving his side a lead in the seventh minute of the match. “You have to let him play”, Maradona said. Argentina have six points from two games, while Bolivia have none and are out. Chile and Panama will play their last group game with the victor joining Argentina in the next stage.
The Paris Saint Germain star was Argentina’s best player in the 2-1 win over Chile, scoring the first goal and setting one up for Ever Banega, before also laying on a ideal free-kick for Nicolas Otamendi to head home against Panama.
Gomez believes Panama – who played with 10 men for nearly an hour after Anibal Godoy was shown two yellow cards in the first half – were capable of getting a result, up until Messi’s entrance.
Two fans stormed the field after the game to try to get to Messi, but each was tackled by security. While Chile played better against Argentina than Panama did, it’s important to note that Messi was out with a back injury. The man is one of the greatest players to ever play but when it comes to Argentina, Messi hasn’t delivered that one major trophy to his country yet.
Higuain was given credit for the assist after a defensive clearance ricocheted in his head and bounced in Messi’s feet for the latter’s first goal of the night.
The Barcelona superstar produced a piece of brilliance soon after when he curved a free-kick over the defensive wall to beat Panama goalkeeper Jaime Penedo at the near post. Messi played a fine pass to Marcos Rojo, who in turn teed up the Man City striker for the simple finish.