Lionel Messi rolled back the years with a stunning free-kick and two assists as Argentina defeated Ecuador 3-0 in the Copa America quarter-final.
The 34-year-old hit the post early on but teed up Rodrigo de Paul to open the scoring just before half-time and then set up Lautaro Martinez for the second in the 84th minute.
Not to be outdone, Messi curled in a brilliant free-kick in injury time to claim his 76th goal for his country after Piero Hincapie was sent off for a foul on Angel di Maria.
— Copa América (@CopaAmerica) July 4, 2021
The victory means Argentina will play Colombia in the semi-final on Wednesday.
Colombia beat Uruguay 4-2 on penalties following a goalless draw.
Brazil play Peru in the first semi 24 hours before.
“I’ve always said that individual prizes are secondary – we’re here for something else,” said Messi, who has four goals and four assists at this year’s tournament.
“We have an objective and we’re focused on that.
“It was a hard match. We know how difficult an opponent they can be.
“The important thing is we’ve taken another step forward.”
Argentina haven’t won the Copa America since 1993.
— 🪄🇳🇱 (@FDJChief) July 4, 2021
Lionel Messi Goal from this angle 😍🐐
— vinar ✪ #LM7 (@vinarr__) July 4, 2021
Six-time Ballon d’Or winner Messi is a free agent after his contract with Barcelona expired at the start of the month.
Messi’s contract was reportedly worth a staggering £476m over four years – £119m per season.
In addition to that, his signing-on fee was £99m, with a further £67m due as a loyalty bonus.
Among his suitors are the likes of Manchester City, Paris Saint-Germain, Juventus and Inter Milan, although he may well sign a new deal with Barca.