By 09:19 Sat, 05 Sep 2015 Comments

The Barcelona forward was restricted to a second-

half cameo against Bolivia, but still found time to

score his 47th and 48th international goals

Argentina head coach Gerardo Martino praised

captain Lionel Messi after his 25-minute double

against Bolivia moved him closer to his nation’s all-

time goalscoring record.

Gabriel Batistuta currently holds the accolade with

56 strikes for his country, but the Barcelona

attacker is fast approaching the retired striker after

his latest two strikes took his overall total to 48.

Despite starting Friday’s friendly in Texas from the

substitutes’ bench, Messi got in on the act as

Argentina thrashed Bolivia 7-0, with Sergio Aguero

and Ezequiel Lavezzi also netting doubles, while

Angel Correa rounded off the scoring late on.

The morale-boosting win was a contrast to the

mood over the summer following Argentina’s defeat

to Chile in the final of the Copa America - a

tournament fallout which saw Messi criticised as

even Martino indulged in speculation over his

skipper’s international future while defending his


"I am sure Leo will catch Batistuta as the team's

leading scorer, he is getting closer,” Martino told

reporters after the match before going on to explain

why the 28-year-old did not play from the start.

"It is logical that the people who pay for tickets and

the organisers of the games want to see Messi


"But we had to think carefully about him because he

has played a lot of games. Luckily, in a short time,

he made it worth the price of admission."

Martino was understandably thrilled with his side’s

performance but was quick to look ahead to

Wednesday’s friendly against Mexico, which will be

their last preparation before the start of South

America’s World Cup qualification campaign.

"I am happy with the intensity with which we played,

both from the players who started and those who

came off the bench," he added.

"It is a good result and helps me form ideas, but

nobody will be ruled in or out of my team based on

a single game.

"We will see how the team changes. The idea is to

play everyone over both games but I have not

decided yet.”

Martino said he would wait to get fitness updates on

the likes of Lucas Biglia, Angel Di Maria, Ezequiel

Garay, Gonzalo Higuain, Javier Pastore and Pablo

Zabaleta before naming his starting XI for the

Mexico clash.



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