Messi nets No. 800 in World Cup celebration match.
Argentina’s first match on home soil after their 2022 World Cup win also ended in victory with two late goals over Panama that left the capacity crowd of the Estadio Monumental in Buenos Aires with smiles on their faces.
Panama didn’t make it easy on the Albiceleste. Still, Thiago Almada finally got the breakthrough goal for the home side with 10 minutes remaining, cleaning up a play that began with a Lionel Messi free kick that struck the left post.
Despite not being recognized as an out-and-out striker, Lionel Messi has managed to score goals with ridiculous frequency throughout his career and that has continued during his time at PSG.
Argentina’s chances weren’t looking good as a brave group of Panamanian reserve players held the reigning World Cup champions scoreless, partly due to solid defense and timely saves by goalkeeper Jose Guerra.
However, the quality of Argentina’s players ultimately prevailed, with Messi again transforming into an Argentina jersey and second-half substitute Almada continuing his good form for his club team Atlanta United.
Before the game, there were parties and musical performances, and the party continued after the final horn. On Tuesday against 86th-ranked Curacao, there will likely be more celebrations in Santiago del Estero.
ARG — Thiago Almada — 79th min.
ARG — Lionel Messi — 89th min.
Argentina (4-3-3, right to left): 23-E. Martinez (GK) — 26-Molina, 13-Romero, 19-Otamendi (25-Li. Martinez, 46′), 3-Tagliafico (8-Acuna, 66′) — 20-Mac Allister (16-Almada, 46′), 24-E. Fernandez (5-Paredes, 61′), 7-De Paul — 10-Messi, 9-J. Alvarez (22-La. Martinez, 46′), 11-Di Maria (21-Dybala, 61′).
Panama (5-4-1, right to left): 12-Guerra (GK) — 2-I. Anderson, 13-Ramos, 4-Farina (14-Hernandez, 65′), 5-Peralta, 3-Galvan (16-Casazola, 70′) — 19-Cordoba (20-Browne, 46′), 6-Gudino (8-Moran, 65′), 11-Murillo (10-Camargo, 77′), 17-‘Cliquiti’ Quintero (18-Medina, 46′) — 9-Stephens