Guatemala City: Lionel Messi surpassed Diego Maradona in the all-time international goalscoring charts for Argentina with a hat-trick in a 4-0 thrashing of Guatemala.
The Barcelona superstar found the net in the 14th, 40th and 48th minutes to take his goals tally for Argentina to 35, one better than former captain and 1986 World Cup winner Maradona on 34.
Messi now stands level with Hernan Crespo on 35, and the 25-year-old maestro will fancy his chances of reeling in Gabriel Batistuta, who holds the record with 56 goals.
Messi opened his account against a hapless Guatemalan side with a low shot on 14 minutes before converting a penalty just before half-time for his second.
He completed his hat-trick just after half-time, coolly tucking away Ezequiel Lavezzi`s low cross from the right.
Messi`s hat-trick came at the end of a troubled week which saw the four-time World Player of the Year and his father Jorge Horacio accused of defrauding the Spanish tax authorities of more than four million euros.
Messi and his father have strongly denied the allegations.
It is not pleasant at all that I had to approach the court but there was no option left for me. I am glad that I have been proved right and it has lifted my morale ahead for the Asian Games.
Manoj Kumar, Indian boxer