Messi retires from international football, a look at six defining moments

The best of them has to be his freekick against USA in the semi-finals
Messi retires from international football, a look at six defining moments
Messi retires from international football, a look at six defining moments
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1.  Argentina vs Serbia and Montenegro: 2006 FIFA World Cup Group
16 June 2006, Gelsenkirchen, Germany

A long haired 18-year old Lionel Messi announced himself on the international stage by scoring his first goal at the World Cup as Argentina pulled off a stunning victory against Serbia and Montenegro at the 2006 FIFA World Cup. Messi added the 6th goal in a 6-0 drubbing after bursting clear in typical Messi style before finishing with a low-strike.  


2. Argentina vs Nigeria: 2008 Olympics Gold Medal Match
23 August 2008, Beijing, China

Argentina, under Diego Maradona, faced Nigeria in the gold medal match at the 2008 Olympics. An Angel di Maria goal lead the South American team to a 1-0 win and Olympic glory. Messi scored twice, including in a 2-1 win over Netherlands in the quarter-final. It remains Messi's biggest achievement in international football. 

3.  Argentina vs Portugal: International Friendly
9 February 2011, Carouge, Switzerland

By this time, Messi had faced severe criticism for his performances in the blue-and-white shirt as he failed to score at the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa where Argentina lost 4-0 in the quarter-finals against Germany.

The friendly against Portugal in 2011 is significant for Messi’s first international game against nemesis Cristiano Ronaldo. Ronaldo scored for Portugal but Messi produced a brilliant assist for di Maria and coolly slotted home a 90th minute penalty to win the game for Argentina

4.  Argentina vs Brazil: International Friendly
9 June 2012, New Jersey, USA

A year later, Messi silenced his critics in one of his finest international performances, scoring a hat-trick including an 85th minute winner against arch-rivals Brazil to lead Argentina to a thrilling 4-3 win, albeit in a friendly.

5.  Argentina vs Iran: 2014 FIFA World Cup Group F
21 June 2014, Belo Horizonte, Brazil

Argentina were huge favourites against Iran but a spirited Iranian performance kept Argentina at bay for 90 minutes before Messi stepped up with a curling effort in stoppage time. Messi lead Argentina to the final of the tournament losing to Germany in extra-time.

6.  Argentina vs USA: 2016 Copa America Semi-final
21 June 2016, Houston, Texas, USA

An injured Lionel Messi was largely rested for Argentina’s group stage games at the Copa America Centenario but scored five goals as he lead Argentina to their third competitive final in three years. It was to be heart-break once again in the final for Messi as he missed a penalty in the shootout loss to Chile.

However, this free kick in the semifinal against USA saw Messi break Gabriel Batitstuta’s record to become Argentina’s highest international goal-scorer with 55 goals.  

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