Lionel Messi scored his first World Cup knockout goal to mark his 1000th career game in Argentina’s Round of 16 World Cup clash against Australia.
Nicolas Otamendi’s poor touch landed at the feet of the PSG star, and he curled the ball into the far corner with his first shot of the contest to put his side 1-0 up.
Lionel Messi scored his first World Cup knockout goal in his 1000th career game on Saturday
The Argentinian superstar broke the deadlock against Australia with a moment of magic
Following the goal, which took Messi past Diego Maradona as Argentina’s record goalscorer at World Cups, fans and pundits were quick to praise the forward, with Jamie Carragher calling the Argentinian ‘the goat’.
The former Liverpool and England defender simply tweeted an emoji of a goat – in reference to the long-standing argument of who is the ‘greatest (player) of all time’.
Messi’s goal for Argentina was his 94th in 169 international appearances since making his debut in 2005.
It was also his ninth World Cup goal in 23 appearances after appearing at the 2006, 2010, 2014, 2018 and 2022 editions of the tournament – but his first-ever goal in the knockout stages.
Along with his 94 goals in 169 international games, Messi has netted 695 goals in 831 club games for Barcelona and PSG in a remarkable record of quality and longevity.
Jamie Carragher labelled Lionel Messi as the ‘greatest of all time’ on Twitter after the goal
Messi has won the Ballon d’Or a record seven times and is one of the greatest footballers ever
The goal against Australia also meant Messi overtook Diego Maradona (pictured) as Argentina’s all-time record goalscorer
The Argentinian is widely regarded as one of the greatest players of all time, winning a record seven Ballon d’Or awards and a record six Golden Shoe awards.
Until leaving Barcelona in 2021, he had spent his whole professional career with the Catalan giants, winning a club-record 35 trophies.
He has scored the most goals ever for a single club, with 650 for Barcelona, while he is also La Liga’s all-time record goalscorer with 474 strikes.
Along with his club honours, he won a Copa America title in 2021, after being a runner-up on three previous occasions, while he was also a runner-up in the 2014 World Cup after Germany triumphed over Argentina in the final.
Speaking ahead of the game in the BBC studio, Alan Shearer and Pablo Zabaleta were in awe of Messi’s talents.
Shearer said: ‘He is a genius, but look at the number of games he has played. Everyone is trying to kick him. Those numbers are bonkers.
‘It (Argentina) is a football mad nation. Can you imagine the pressure that he plays under. It must be incredible.’
Zabaleta, who is a close friend of Messi and played in the national team alongside him, said: ‘It is everything. People will pay a ticket to come and watch Messi play football.
Messi’s 650 goals for his boyhood club Barcelona is the most ever scored for a single club
The 35-year-old guided Argentina to the Copa America title in 2021 – his first international trophy
‘He brings so much joy. What a player he has been. He is at the end of his career, but is one of the main players for the national team. He is still performing at the highest level.
‘Pass the ball to Messi, that was all we needed to do. When I had the ball at my feet, I always thought “where’s Messi, where’s Messi”, he is the one who will create something.’
Zabaleta was also full of praise for Messi’s off-pitch qualities along with his undoubted limitless talents.
He said: ‘He is so mature these days. His speech before the Copa America final against Brazil saying “lads we have been together for 45 days, let’s do it for our country”.
‘Some people forget he retired from international duty after three consecutive finals we lost. He was desperate to win something for the country.
‘That Copa America in Brazil brought the country together. You saw the reaction of the players.
‘I see a lot of people saying at this World Cup we want our country to win, but if our country can’t, we want to see Messi win.’