Sunday, 19 June 2016

Messi 'proud' to equal Batistuta's Argentina scoring record

Messi 'proud' to equal Batistuta's Argentina scoring record 

A goal against Venezuela leaves La Pulga on the verge of setting a new milestone in international colours, but he was just as happy with a stunning assist during the win
Lionel Messi admits it is an honour to draw level with Gabriel Batistuta as Argentina's highest scorer of all time.

The Barcelona star equalled Bati's mark with the third goal of the evening as the Albiceleste advanced into the Copa America semi-finals with a 4-1 victory over Venezuela.

A goal against United States on Tuesday would see him pull clear with 55 international strikes, but Messi has affirmed that merely being on the same level as the Fiorentina legend is something to cherish.

"I levelled him, I did not break the record, but to be next to Gabriel Batistuta as the highest goalscorer, with all that implies, is a source of great pride for me," the 28-year-old told Telam.

"But I am also happy not just because I scored, but because I helped the team with the pass I gave [Gonzalo] Higuain for the first goal. That was also great."

The hosts now stand in the way of a third consecutive major final for Argentina, after falling short at the 2014 World Cup and last year's Copa in Chile.

"Our goal was to move forward and make the semi-finals. We did that with a great game and by playing better, except for the last 15 minutes of the first half when [Venezuela] pressured us and started to take the ball," he explained.

"That's why I think we have to continue in this way, looking to dominates games from the start and always playing with the ball. Where we have to improve is in not getting too confident or lazy, as happened in the last 15 minutes of that half.

"If they had managed to score there they would have gone into the dressing room and they would have come out swinging in the second half."