Argentina took another step towards qualifying for the 2026 FIFA World Cup with a comfortable 2-0 win over Peru on Tuesday night. The hero of the match was none other than Lionel Messi, who scored both goals for the Albiceleste.

The 36-year-old maestro, playing his first match for Argentina since lifting the World Cup trophy in December, showed he has lost none of his magic. Messi produced a moment of pure genius in the first half, bamboozling two Peru defenders with a crazy dribble that left the crowd in raptures.

He then opened the scoring in the 32nd minute with a precise left-footed finish into the bottom corner. Messi doubled Argentina’s lead just 10 minutes later, latching onto a through ball and coolly slotting it past the Peru keeper.

Messi Doubles Lead With Composed Finish

The two goals took Messi’s international tally to 98, edging him closer to the magical 100-goal mark for his country. But it wasn’t just the goals that made this a special performance from the seven-time Ballon d’Or winner.

Messi was unplayable at times, dropping deep to dictate play and carving open the Peru defense with his trademark acceleration and close control. He continued to threaten after scoring his brace, with Peru defenders left chasing shadows every time Messi got on the ball.

“We have great players and a very marked style of play, which we like. We want to continue down this path,” Messi said after the match. “After winning the World Cup, we are confident, very loose, more united and firm. Hopefully, we can continue growing.”

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Messi Praised By Scaloni And Focused On World Cup

Argentina coach Lionel Scaloni was full of praise for Messi, saying: “The most important thing is that Messi is healthy. He manages the minutes alone.”

With the win, Argentina remained on top of the South American World Cup qualifying standings with 12 points. They appear well set to qualify for next year’s global showpiece under coach Scaloni, who led them to glory in Qatar barely four months ago.

Messi will now return to club duty with Inter Miami in the MLS. He is unlikely to feature in their remaining two matches this season, effectively ending his campaign.

But on the evidence of this performance, the Argentine legend remains fired up to lead his country’s charge in North America next year. As long as Messi is fit and firing, Argentina will enter the World Cup as one of the clear favorites.

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