Lionel Messi increased his total to 106 goals in 178 international appearances, moving within two of Iran’s Ali Daei for second on the career list behind Portugal’s Cristiano Ronaldo at 127.
The defending World Cup champion never faced risks at Lima’s National Stadium against a Peruvian team that has yet to score in four qualifying matches. Argentina’s confident performance could be traced to Messi finally playing as a starter and appearing fully healthy.
The 36-year-old made it 1-0 after a counterattack in the 32nd minute. Enzo Fernández passed to Nico González on the left. A low cross found Messi at the edge of the box, and he shot it to the left angle of goalkeeper Pedro Gallese.
Messi scored again 10 minutes later after Enzo Fernández found him nearly at the same spot. Messi shot it on Gallese’s right corner. He later had a goal disallowed for a low margin offside caught by video review in the 57th minute.
“Yes, we have a good group and a good environment in our dressing room and things are much easier. We enjoy being together and playing together,” Messi said. “After we won the World Cup we got confidence, we are more united and firm. I hope we can keep growing.”
Peruvian and Argentinian fans tried to invade the field after the match to hug Messi, who led the World Cup champions to their eighth straight victory since they won last year’s title in Qatar.
Last Thursday, Messi played for almost an entire half of Argentina’s 1-0 victory over Paraguay.
Reporting by The Associated Press.
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