Lionel Messi has reached another milestone in his extraordinary career, becoming just the second Argentina player ever to score 50 international goals after getting on the scoresheet against Bolivia on Wednesday.
The 28-year-old magician struck in the 30th minute of the 2018 World Cup qualifier at the Estadio Mario Alberto Kempes to reach the half-century for the Albiceleste – a mark only ever reached before by Gabriel Batistuta who scored 55 goals for his country.
The five-time ballon d'Or winner, who powered Argentina to World Cup and Copa America finals over the past two years, scored his 50th goal in his 107th appearance for his national side.
"I am happy with the six points, which was the objective at start of these two games," Messi told reporters after the match. "We tried to play more football, and this will help us to keep improving."
He also paid tribute to the crowd at the Estadio Mario Alberto Kempes in Cordoba despite the poor conditions of the pitch.
Messi displays his latest Goal 50 award. Image: Goal
"The pitch was not great, we knew this was not going to be an excuse," he said. "At times we played well, [but others] we were tired and our rhythm dropped. But the game was won.
"We got a nice reception, the people showed us a lot of affection. It is not up to us if we play in Buenos Aires or in the interior. The important thing is we won. Then we go out to play wherever we are told to."
Messi now needs one more strike to reach 500 career goals for club and country having scored 449 for Barca and 50 Argentina, and his next opportunity to do that comes up in Saturday's El Clasico when Barcelona host Real Madrid in La Liga.
"I had not physical issues, and now is time to return to Barcelona to think about the Clasico, which will be a very big test.
"It would be a nice way to reach that number, against Real Madrid. The really nice thing would be to win the game and stretch the lead in the standings."
He is also the top scorer in Clasico history with 21 goals