Copa América Stories (IV): Leo Messi's hat-trick in 19 minutes off the bench
In the 2016 tournament the Argentine star scored three times against Panama, recording the quickest hat-trick in the competition's history
Another Copa América is almost upon us, a tournament with a long history that usually has a good number of Barça representatives amongst those players taking part. One such name over the years has been none other than Leo Messi who is on the verge in taking part in the Copa América for the fifth time in his career. In 2016, the special centenary edition of the competition, the Argentine striker left his indelible mark on the tournament by coming off the bench to score a hat-trick in just 19 minutes.
The three goals came in the second group stage fixture of the Copa América that was being played outside South America in the USA. After a 2-1 win in their opening match against Chile, Argentina coach ‘Tata’ Martino decided to leave Messi on the bench for the clash with guest nation Panama. The Barça number 10 came on the second half of the contest and found the net in 67th minute, just six minutes after stepping out on to the turf.
A typically searing free kick in the 78th minute followed before an excellent finish form inside the box with just four minutes of normal time remaining allowed Messi to claim his third. A hat-trick in 19 minutes from the Argentine allowed Martino’s team to claim a 5-0 win and a place in the quarter –finals.
Leader in assists and man of the match awards
Furthermore, Leo Messi has more assists than any other player in the competition with 11. The Barça star has also won nine man of the match awards in the tournament’s history as well as being runner-up on no less than three occasions, in 2007, 2015 and 2016. This year, in Brazil, Messi will be aiming to add the Copa América title to his already impressive list of honours.