The best soccer player in the world scored a hat trick Saturday in front of a sold-out MetLife Stadium to lead his Argentinian national team to a thrilling 4-3 win in their friendly match against rival Brazil.
Messi scored two first half goals and broke a 3-3 tie in the final minutes of the match, dashing to the center of the pitch and beating the Brazilian keeper to the top corner with a powerful, bending, left-footed shot from just outside the box.
Brazil took the early lead in front of 82,000 at MetLife Stadium when Romulo scored in the 23rd minute. Messi scored the next two goals on breakaways, in the 31st and 34th minue, to give the Argentinian side the lead going into the half.
Brazil tied the game in the 56th minute on a goal by Oscar and took a 3-2 lead in the 72nd minute of the wide open match on a corner kick that was mishandled by the Argentinian keeper.
Argentina tied the match just a few minutes later on a set piece from the corner, before Messi broke the tie with the rocket shot from just outside the box.
The Argentina-Brazil match, with Messi as its main draw, was one of the hottest tickets so far this year, with tickets selling for several hundred dollars on StubHub. More than 80,000 tickets were purchased within 48 hours of being put on sale months ago.
The 24-year-old three-time defending world player of the year scored 73 goals this year in 60 European appearances, setting the single season record for goals scored in one Euro season. He also tallied 29 assists, and set the La Liga record for goals in a season.