Houston, June 22 (IANS) Argentina football star Lionel Messi, who became his country’s scorer of record goals, surpassing Gabriel Batistuta’s mark of 54, said he was happy to reach the landmark and thanked his teammates for their support.
Messi curled in a magnificent 32nd-minute free-kick to take his total to 55 goals as Argentina outclassed United States 4-0 in the Copa America semi-final in front of a 70,858 crowd at the NRG Stadium here on Tuesday.
The five-time World Footballer of the Year now has five goals in this Copa America as he aims to lead Argentina to their first major title in 23 years.
“I’m happy to have the record, and I’m happy to play with the teammates that have made it possible. I owe it to them,” Messi was quoted as saying by Sky Sports after the win.
The Barcelona forward also created Argentina’s opening goal for Ezequiel Lavezzi and was involved in the build-up for their third, scored by Gonzalo Higuain in the 50th minute. Messi then laid on the pass for Higuain’s second four minutes from time.
“We’ve been playing well from day one and we deserve to be in the final,” Messi said.
Argentina will now face either Chile or Colombia in Sunday’s final at East Rutherford, New Jersey — their third major final in three years after reaching the finals of the 2015 Copa America and 2014 World Cup.
“I’m very happy for him (Messi),” Argentina head coach Gerardo Martino said.
“I’m happy that he’s done it here at the Copa America. It is great that the best player in the world is the leading scorer of the Argentina national team,” Martino added.