After struggling with injury issues for weeks, the 2022 World Cup winner joined his national team for this month’s qualifier games.
Coming off the bench in the 1-0 win over Paraguay last week, Messi returned to the starting XI against Peru.
The 36-year-old broke the deadlock around the half-hour mark, producing a remarkable first touch after a cutback from Nico Gonzalez.
The strike also saw him surpass his close companion and Uruguayan striker Luis Suarez as the all-time top scorer of the CONMEBOL qualifiers.
Messi doubled the lead for La Albiceleste not long after, with Chelsea midfielder Enzo Fernandez serving as the provider this time.
The former Barcelona star almost completed his hat-trick in the second half, but his strike was ruled out due to offside.
The win also helped Lionel Scaloni’s men continue their impeccable record in the World Cup qualifiers as they top the rankings with four victories in four games.
Messi embarked on a sensational run of form at Inter Miami before his progress was curtailed by injuries.
While his lack of fitness spawned criticism about whether his career was ebbing, he has again proven the naysayers wrong with a scintillating performance against Peru.
Messi also offered his thoughts on the win, claiming that La Albiceleste are growing better with each game while putting the current side ahead of Barcelona in the best-ever team he has played with.
“This team is playing better and better, “ said Messi (h/t Albicelestetalk). “The Barcelona that I had to play was the best team in history, that’s a lot, no?
“But this one is very close – I think for what we have been showing, for having become the champion of Copa America and the world, and that has a lot of merit.”
“We have great players. No matter who we play against, it is not noticeable because we have a very marked game that identifies us a lot. We like to do it. We hope to continue down this path.”
Messi is the front-runner for this year’s Ballon d’Or, and his performance against Peru is the perfect lead-up to clinching the prestigious award for a record eighth time.
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