Lionel Messi nets his 50th international goal as Barcelona star closes in on 500 career strikes

Baku, March 31, AZERTAC

Lionel Messi scored his 50th international goal to help Argentina beat Bolivia 2-0 in their 2018 World Cup qualifier on Tuesday, according to the Daily Mail.

The win put Argentina third in the South American group with 11 points from six matches, two points behind joint-leaders Ecuador and Uruguay.

Defender Gabriel Mercado, who scored the winner in Thursday's 2-1 away victory over Chile, opened the scoring in the 21st minute against Bolivia.

Argentina were awarded a penalty in the 29th minute after Ronald Eguino fouled midfielder Ever Banega and Messi made no mistake from the spot to move within six goals of Gabriel Batistuta's record.

'This (campaign) is very long and what's important is that we won and remain on course,' Messi told TyC Sports. 'I'm happy with goal number 50 but more because we won and this helps to keep growing.

'It was fundamental to get the six points,' Argentina coach Gerardo Martino said of the two wins. 'I think we played a serious match and won well.'

Messi, who is now on 499 career goals for his country and Barcelona, also wowed the Cordoba crowd with a brilliant dribble late in the game that took him past four players.

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