Lionel Messi scored a hat-trick to power Argentina to a 4-0 victory in their World Cup warm-up match against Haiti – and said lifting the World Cup would be the nation’s “dream”.
The Barcelona forward fired a penalty into the back of the net to open the scoring after 17 minutes, before taking his second 12 minutes into the second half.
Messi completed the triple – and scored his 64th international goal – with a tap-in past Haiti keeper Johny Placide after 65 minutes.
Two minutes later, Sergio Aguero rounded of the scoring, driving the ball into the bottom left-hand corner following a pass from Messi.
It was a convincing – if not surprising – win for a team ranked fifth in the world, 103 places above their opponents.
Nevertheless, the victory will boost fans’ hopes that Messi can lead two-time champions Argentina to glory in Russia.
Following the match, Messi was quoted by the Argentina Football Association’s website as saying: “I have no doubt that we are going to grow. We have time.
“The World Cup is our dream, the dream of the country.
“We’re going to leave everything in the World Cup.”
Argentina manager Jorge Sampaoli said the team still had some improvements to make ahead of the tournament, but added that his side had proved their dominance against Haiti.
The team will now head to Barcelona for a training camp before a final warm-up match against Israel next month.