Lionel Messi breaks Pele’s South American men’s goals record

Lionel Messi, the Argentine megastar has surpassed Brazilian legend Pele for the most goals scored by a South American player and also became the leading international goal scorer in the history of South American football on Thursday.

Messi opened the scoring for Argentina in their World Cup qualifier against Bolivia at the Monumental Stadium in Buenos Aires to tie Pele’s mark of 77 international goals. The 34-year-old then struck his 78th international goal on 64 minutes to give Argentina a 2-0 lead. Messi’s double came in his 153rd appearance for Argentina. With 26 goals in World Cup qualifying matches following his hat-trick against Bolivia, Messi also passes Uruguay star Luis Suarez, for most among CONMEBOL players. Meanwhile, Cristiano Ronaldo holds the outright record for goals scored in international football with 111 from 180 games. Three-time World Cup winner Pele remains in hospital due to surgery for a tumor on his colon on Monday, although the 80-year-old said the operation was a “great victory.” Thursday’s game also came days after Argentina’s World Cup qualifying match against Brazil, their first rematch since the Copa final, was controversially suspended. Brazilian health authorities entered the pitch at Sao Paulo’s Corinthians Arena with the game in progress and accused four Argentina players of failing to follow Brazil’s COVID-19 protocols for entering the country.