Lionel Messi scores 800th career goal on Argentina’s return to action

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After scoring against Panama on Thursday, Lionel Messi is only the second player ever to score 800 official career goals.

Lionel Messi reached the latest major milestone of his storied career on Thursday as he moved on to 800 goals with a stunning free kick for to seal Argentina’s 2-0 friendly win against Panama on Thursday.

The reigning World Cup champions returned to Buenos Aires to a rousing reception from their loyal supporters, but had to wait until the final moments for their favorite son to get on the scoresheet.

Messi hit the crossbar with a free-kick in the first half and after a second free-kick was saved by inspired Panama goalkeeper Jose Guerra, he hit the woodwork again with a third free-kick, although this one led to the opener as Thiago. Almada got the rebound.

But his fourth free-kick eventually curled under the bar and into the top-right corner, sending the stadium into raptures.

Of course, it wasn’t that long ago that Messi hit another goal milestone.

His strike from Kylian Mbappe’s centimeter-perfect cross against Marseille on February 26 was the 700th club goal of Messi’s career – the strike against Panama was only his second for club or country since then.

Messi’s sensational performance at El Monumental on Thursday was his 99th on the international stage.

Only his old nemesis Cristiano Ronaldo (120) and Iran legend Ali Daei (109) have scored more goals in men’s international football than Messi, who looks set to play for Argentina for a while yet.

So his 100th goal for the Albiceleste is seemingly around the corner.

But much like this international milestone, Messi is not the first player to reach 800 in a career.

The data can get a little murkier when you go deep into the past, with historical inconsistencies making it a little more difficult to classify “official goals” or “official competitions”.

The likes of Brazilian greats Romario and Pele are among a group of players who are believed by some to have scored over 1,000 goals in their careers, but many of them were netted in friendly or ‘unofficial’ matches.

The International Federation of Football History and Statistics (IFFHS) considered Cristiano Ronaldo to be the first player to reach 800 official goals in December 2021.

With that in mind, Thursday’s goal is Messi’s second to reach the milestone, and it’s still going strong.

He scored 18 goals in a season (all competitions) with PSG, although at Qatar 2022 he scored seven in as many games as Argentina won the World Cup.

Of course, the vast majority of his 800 goals were scored in Barcelona colours.

During 17 years in the Barca first team, Messi scored 672 times. This is 440 more than any other player in the club’s history and also holds their record for most appearances (778).

And with his future at PSG uncertain, he could extend those records even further at the Camp Nou.

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