While the whole of Europe has their footballing eyes trained on France, a little Argentinian magician has been up to his old tricks in the Copa America… and making some people look a bit silly in the process. Having promised to bring you the best footie videos we find, we just HAD to share these.
Lionel Messi didn’t make an appearance at the Copa America until the tournament was eleven days old, but it was worth the wait.
Coming off the bench on the hour mark with his side 1-0 up against 10-man Panama – in their second group game – he proceeded to score an 18-minute hat-trick to secure a quarter final place, including an exquisite free kick.
He failed to find the net coming off the bench in their 3-0 win over Bolivia in the final group game, but more than made up for it with one piece of impudence that left a serious amount of egg on the face of Bolivian goalkeeper Carlos Lampe.
Stuck on the touchline and with no support out wide, Messi chose to nutmeg the keeper. Yes, you read that right… nutmeg him! See for yourself below.
Whilst it didn’t lead to a goal – both players soon realised Messi had been flagged off-side – it’s still one of the best and most impudent moves we’ve seen on a football pitch in a long time.
His hot streak continued in the 3-1 quarter-final win over Venezuala with a brilliant assist for Gonzalo Higuain…
… before equalling Gabriel Batistuta’s national goalscoring record with a lovely finish of his own – another nutmeg on the goalkeeper.
As if that wasn’t enough, he then topped the lot in the early hours of Wednesday morning with a goal worthy of breaking any record .
With his side leading the USA 1-0 in the semi-final, the magician’s wand of a left foot produced the definition of a top-corner free kick to crown Messi as the greatest goalscorer in Argentinian football history.
So bravo Leo Messi – we salute you.
Updated 27/6: Sad to see that this Messi magic was the last we’ll see of him in an Argentina shirt. Always a joy to watch and sums up more than any player in recent memory why football is called the beautiful game.