Argentina coach Gerardo Martino said Lionel Messi “continues to astound” after the captain scored his 50th senior international goal in a 2-0 World Cup qualifying victory against Bolivia on Tuesday.
Messi struck the decisive second goal from the penalty spot after Gabriel Mercado had broken the deadlock.
The result made it three consecutive wins for Argentina, who are now third in CONMEBOL qualifying behind Uruguay and Ecuador.
Barcelona superstar Messi is just six goals behind Argentina’s record marksman Gabriel Bastituta and could reach 500 for his career in Saturday’s Clasico encounter with Real Madrid.
“Messi played a great game, he could have scored more goals,” Martino said.
“[He] continues to astound, Argentines are very happy to have him.”
Martino was not fully satisfied with his team’s performance but was happy to collect maximum points from matches against Chile and Bolivia during the international break.
“The first half was better, in the second we lacked intensity, although we played a serious game,” he said.
“Getting the six points was essential. We have won three straight and settled in the table, but the qualifiers are still very even.
“We played a solid game and did not give the rival options.
“Everyone assumed that Argentina would win the game, but it is something that had not happened in other qualifiers.”