Lionel Messi Poster by Adam Jones / Flickr
Lionel Messi Poster, Buenos Aires by Adam Jones / Flickr

Guatemala 0-4 Argentina
14 June 2013*
Estadio Nacional Mateo Flores, Guatemala City
Friendly
Scorers: Messi (3), Fernandez

After playing out two draws, Unofficial Football World Champions Argentina returned to winning ways in impressive style. A half-fit Lionel Messi had made only cameo appearances from the bench during the previous two matches, but here he was returned to the starting line-up with spectacular results. Challengers Guatemala – playing in their first ever UFWC title match – were completely blown away.

By the time he had been substituted on 68 minutes, Argentina captain Messi had scored three goals and created another. In doing so he overtook Diego Maradona in Argentina’s national goalscoring records. Messi is now his country’s joint second top scorer alongside Hernan Crespo. Only the great Gabriel Batistuta has scored more goals for Argentina.

Messi’s first goal, on 14 minutes, was typically brilliant. Receiving the ball 25 yards from goal, he took one touch for control, another couple to nudge it wide of a defender, then curled a left-foot shot past Guatemala keeper Ricardo Jerez.

Messi then turned provider, crossing from the left for Augusto Fernandez to glance a header into the net with 35 minutes on the clock.

The match was effectively over five minutes later, when Messi surged into the penalty area and was scythed down from behind. The captain picked himself up to take the kick, and sent Jerez the wrong way – the ball nestling in the bottom left corner of the net.

3-0, and the half-time whistle offered blessed respite for Guatemala. But, within three minutes of the restart it was 4-0 as Messi rolled in Ezequiel Lavezzi’s cut-back pass. Messi had completed his hat-trick, and Argentina had secured a fine victory.

Argentina coach Alejandro Sabella put Guatemala out of their misery with 22 minutes remaining by substituting Messi. His team drove through the rest of the match in cruise control, keeping Guatemala at arms length to ensure a clean sheet.

The victory – Argentina’s 54th title match win – sets up an intriguing UFWC clash. Argentina’s next match is against Italy on 14 August – a friendly in Rome in tribute to new Argentine Pope Francis. Argentina have cancelled a previously-arranged fixture against Russia in order to be in Rome. Media reports from Argentina suggest the Pope will start the match with the first kick, which will certainly be a UFWC first.

We’ll be building up to Italy vs Argentina over the coming days and weeks with a range of new UFWC articles and features. Follow us on Twitter or Facebook to keep up to date with the Unofficial Football World Championships.

*For the avoidance of confusion, this match was played on the evening of 14 June local time, which was the early morning of 15 June in Europe.