Lionel Messi claims new record as Argentina beat Peru in World Cup qualifying

Superstar forward scores both goals in 2-0 win to become all-time top goalscorer in South American qualifying history

Lionel Messi celebrates scoring Argentina's second goal in the 2-0 win over Peru. AP
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Lionel Messi believes the current Argentina team could be the best in the nation's history after the Inter Miami superstar claimed another milestone with both goals in the 2-0 win over Peru in South American World Cup qualifying on Tuesday.

Messi, who was included in the squad despite having been sidelined in recent weeks with a muscle problem, started the game and scored his 30th and 31st goals World Cup qualifying goals - making him the all-time top goalscorer in South American World Cup qualifying history.

The 36-year-old forward put the world champions ahead in the 32nd minute with a superb shot after an assist from Nicolas Gonzalez, and 10 minutes later made it 2-0 with a fierce finish from Enzo Fernandez's pass.

Messi, who was denied a hat-trick in the second half when he had a goal disallowed for offside following a VAR review, became Conmebol's leading scorer in World Cup qualifiers with his double taking his tally to 31, breaking a tie with Uruguay's Luis Suarez.

"This team is incredible, every time they play they are very close to being the best in history," said Messi, who famously led Argentina to their third World Cup title in Qatar last year.

"On a game level I think we have grown. After winning the World Cup we are confident, very loose, more united and firm. Hopefully we can continue to grow."

Argentina manager Lionel Scaloni said Argentina's players were on the same wavelength as Messi, who is planning to retire before the 2026 World Cup.

"The team has understood Messi for a long time, it benefits him and he feels comfortable," he said. "I hope he plays as much as he can because everyone is happy to see him on the pitch."

In other qualifiers on Tuesday, Uruguay beat Brazil 2-0 with Neymar forced to leave the field after suffering what appeared to be a serious knee injury.

Venezuela cruised past Chile 3-0, Paraguay beat 1-0 Bolivia and Ecuador draw 0-0 against Colombia.

Argentina, who remain top of the Conmebol standings, will host Uruguay on Nov. 16 before taking on Brazil five days later.

Peru face Bolivia and Venezuela in the next round of qualifiers.

Updated: October 18, 2023, 5:15 AM