Messi scores stunning hat-trick as Argentina thrash Bolivia in World Cup qualifier
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Messi scores stunning hat-trick as Argentina thrash Bolivia in World Cup qualifier

Lionel Messi led Argentina to a resounding 3-0 win over Bolivia in a World Cup qualifier match on Friday.

The 34-year-old scored a stunning hat-trick as the Copa America champions moved to within six points of leaders Brazil. 

Messi opened the scores after just 14 minutes with a wonderful solo effort, skipping past defenders before firing the ball from the edge of the box past the diving goalkeeper into the inside of the left post. 

Lautaro Martinez then thought he had given his side a 2-0 lead just before the half-hour mark with another beauty, but his, and Argentina's celebrations were cut short after the goal was ruled out for offside following a VAR check. 

Martinez came close again just before the break after making a yard for himself inside the box before taking a shot, but it went just wide of the right post.

Despite controlling the match for long periods, Argentina could not find a second until the 64th minute and it was Messi, again, as he fired a rebound inside the left post after the ball broke to him in the box. 

He then scored a third in the 74th minute but it was ruled out for offside.

Bolivia felt they should have been given a penalty when Marcelo Moreno went down inside the box following a challenge from a defender, but it was not awarded even after a VAR review.  

Messi then grabbed his hat-trick in the 88th minute to round off an impressive night in which they had the chance to celebrate the Copa America crown with their fans. 

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