Lionel Messi scores twice as Argentina extends unbeaten run to 35 games with win over Jamaica
Argentina trounced Jamaica 3-0 on Tuesday night in Harrison, New Jersey, to extend their unbeaten record to 35 matches over three years. Lionel Messi scored twice off the bench as Argentina extended their unbeaten streak to 35 matches over three years.
Argentina took the lead in the 13th minute thanks to Julian Alvarez, who came off the bench in the 55th minute and added two goals to his career total of 90 in 164 international games.
The six-time global player of the year scored in the 86th minute on a 23-yard left-footed strike after wonderful interaction with Giovani Lo Celso, then added another three minutes later on a free kick after being fouled by Adrian Mariappa just outside the penalty area.
Fans running onto the pitch reached Messi twice. The first, in the 65th minute, was promptly pushed down and encircled by security as he approached Messi, while the second occurred after the PSG striker scored his first goal, with security responding once more.
Messi scored four goals in Argentina’s two World Cup warmup games this month, giving him a total of 16 on American soil.
Less than a minute into the second half, fans exploded in excitement when Messi strolled with teammates to a corner and began warming up, and the crowd rose and cheered when he came in for Lautaro Martnez and received the captain’s armband from Angel Di Maria.
Messi, who won his first senior championship for Argentina at the Copa America last year, revitalized Argentina in the second half and forced Jamaica goalkeeper Andre Blake to make two diving saves.
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The 25,000-capacity Red Bull Arena was nearly packed, and the fans, many of whom wore blue-and-white striped Albiceleste shirts, made it feel like an Argentina home game. The majority of public speech announcements were in Spanish, and ribbon boards flashed “Vamos Argentina!”
After Nicolas Tagliafico passed from the wing to Martinez, who twisted around Leon Bailey to open space and centered to the 22-year-old Alvarez, Argentina took the lead. He slotted past Blake for his second international goal in 11 games.
Argentina will compete in their 13th World Cup, hoping to add to their titles won in 1978 with Mario Kempes and 1986 with Diego Maradona. Argentina has one more friendly left, against the United Arab Emirates on November 16 in Abu Dhabi. Argentina opens the World Cup in Qatar against Saudi Arabia, which tied the United States 0-0 in an exhibition match on Tuesday, and then faces Mexico and Poland in Group C.
Argentina has 25 victories, one on penalties, and ten draws since a 2-0 setback to Brazil in the Copa America on July 2, 2019.
Lionel Scaloni made eight changes to the starting lineup from Friday’s 3-0 triumph against 80th-ranked Honduras at Miami Gardens, Florida, with the introduction of Di Maria and Giovani Lo Celso. Geronimo Rulli was replaced in goal by Emiliano Martnez.
In contrast to Argentina, the Reggae Boyz, who placed sixth out of eight countries in the CONCACAF region’s final round, wore jerseys with no names. In their debut encounter under new coach Heimir Hallgrmsson, Jamaica fielded a first-team lineup that included Premier League stars Michail Antonio, Leon Bailey, and Bobby Decordova-Reid, as well as Blake, a Philadelphia Union standout.