A hat-trick from Lionel Messi was the key for Argentina in a stunning win over South American rivals Brazil on Saturday.
The brilliant No.10 had dragged his team back into the game to lead at half-time, after Romulo handed the Selecao an early advantage in New Jersey.
Goals from Oscar and Hulk looked to have swung the balance once more in the favour of Mano Menezes’ men after the break, but Federico Fernandez turned in a towering header to once more equalise.
That set the stage for the Barcelona star to hit his third, skipping past the Brazil back line before giving Rafael no chance in goal with his long-range effort.
Brazil were inspired early by the dynamic Neymar who threatened Sergio Romero’s goal with a shot from the edge of the area after wriggling free of his markers.
It was Neymar’s free kick that set up the first goal. He chipped the ball into the box and, with Argentina’s defence motionless, Romulo was free to control and shoot home.
Argentina looked short of attacking ideas early, the absence of Aguero in favour of Jose Sosa diminishing the offensive threat.
With Messi in the team, however, goals are never too far away. The Barcelona striker latched on to a weighted pass from Gonzalo Higuain and cut through the centre of Brazil’s back line, slotting past Rafael Cabral to equalise.
Argentina hit again, just minutes later, in an almost carbon copy of the first goal.
Angel Di Maria this time spotted the gap between novice defensive pairing Juan and Bruno Uvini, and Messi took it alone once more to round Cabral.
Brazil redoubled their efforts after the break having been unlucky to trail, and with 10 minutes of the half played found the equaliser.
Oscar set up a neat move with Leandro Damiao to burst into the box, and finished calmly past Romero for his first international goal and the leveller.
The Argentine defence was unconvincing and another howler led to Brazil’s third.
Keeper Romero was this time at fault, dropping a cross almost at the feet of Hulk to give the Porto man the simplest of finishes.
Alejandro Sabella brought on Sergio Aguero with an instant impact. Kun’s corner was met by Federico Fernandez who powered in a header to level with just 15 minutes left.
It was then time for Messi to decide proceedings; seconds after forcing an acrobatic save from Rafael, the Argentine captain went one better as he skipped past the defence from wide on the right wing before, in a goal reminiscent of the winner netted against the same opposition in 2010, powering the ball past the helpless keeper to make it 4-3.
A late sending off for substitute Ezequiel Lavezzi just three minutes after entering the field was a disappointing way for the game to end, following a brilliant hour and a half of attacking football.
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