Lionel Messi’s decision not to retire from international football after winning the World Cup continues to be yet another genius call.
Five games on from lifting up the ultimate prize in sport, Messi continues to prove worth his weight in gold for his country with another stunning goal.
Taking on Ecuador in Argentina’s first qualifier for the 2026 World Cup, Messi showed no signs at all of slowing down after his move to Major League Soccer with Inter Miami.
And when his team were struggling to find the net against a staunch away team, the 36-year-old curled in a trademark free kick, leaving a helpless goalkeeper stranded in the middle of his goal.
Reeling off in celebration of what would turn out to be a 78th minute match-winner, Messi headed straight for the touchline.
And awaiting him was Manchester United starlet Alejandro Garnacho who received a giant hug before a pile-on.
The winger failed to make it off the bench in the win, but it still would have been a moment to savour for Garnacho inside an 83,000 capacity Estadio Monumental.
Madrid-born Garnacho grew up as a huge Cristiano Ronaldo fan during his days in the Spanish capital with Atletico Madrid.
His dream came true when the Portuguese re-joined United in 2021, and he got to witness an incredible first season before an awful second which only lasted until a December move to Al Nassr.
Fans have long wondered which side of the ‘Greatest of all Time’ debate Garnacho stands due to a number of cryptic social media posts, but his Monumental moment with Messi may well settle things.
Argentina are the team everyone wants to beat and Messi is not one to let standards slip.
“Now that we are world champions, even more. That’s why we can’t go down. We even have to go up a little more than we were doing. The demand in each game is maximum and, surely more and more.”
His competitive spirit is still there as Ashley Westwood told talkSPORT after playing against him in America when Charlotte FC faced Inter Miami.
“To play against him – I knew he was going to be good, but to be that good was just ridiculous, absolutely ridiculous.
“I was trying to kick him but I couldn’t even get near him. He’s special, but I don’t think he was too happy – he just stared at us the whole time and didn’t speak too much English.”
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