Watch: Lionel Messi reaches historic 800-goal mark with incredulous free-kick for Argentina against Panama
Lionel Messi became only the second footballer in history to reach 800 career goals after Cristiano Ronaldo.
Lionel Messi's Argentina made a return for the first time since lifting the World Cup last December, as they beat Pana 2-0 in an international friendly on Thursday. Thiago Almada and Messi were on target in a festive atmosphere at the Monumental Stadium in Buenos Aires, as manager Lionel Scaloni picked the same starting XI that also played in the World Cup final against France. Argentina couldn't break through the Panama defence in the opening half of the match but Almada broke the deadlock with his first international goal, thanks to a rebound from a Messi free-kick.
The Argentine captain, then, finally scored his 800th career goal with a free-kick that went into the top-right corner of the goal. His 89th minute goal doubled Argentina's lead, ensuring a victory for the side in front of a 80,000-strong crowd at ‘El Monumental’. Messi became the second footballer to reach 800 goals after Cristiano Ronaldo of Portugal, who has 830 career goals to his name.
Watch Messi's historic goal against Panama here:
A post-match ceremony was also organised by the Argentina Football Association to celebrate the country's FIFA World Cup victory; it was the country's third title and their first in 36 years.
"I always dreamed of this moment, to celebrate with you in my country Argentina, lifting the greatest thing that is the World Cup," Messi said at a post-match ceremony.
"Let's keep doing what we are doing and enjoy this, because we have been waiting a long time to win it again. Let's enjoy the third star."
A tearful Scaloni added: "Eternal gratitude to these players. Football belongs to them, and without them we wouldn't have won the World Cup.
"Everyone who wears this shirt gives their all and sometimes the results don't come. But this time we got it and it's incredible," said the coach before a victory lap of players and families reminiscent of the one his team did 95 days ago at the Lusail Stadium.