Guatemala falls to Argentina in friendly

GUATEMALA CITY -- Argentine superstar Lionel Messi put on a clinic, recording a hat-trick and setting up a fourth goal to lead Argentina to a 4-0 victory over Guatemala on Friday in an international friendly at the Estadio Mateo Flores.

The Chapines were shut out for the second consecutive game, following a 0-0 draw against visiting Belize in Antigua on Tuesday.

Messi, who was used as a substitute in recent World Cup qualifiers against Colombia and Ecuador, started and played 67 minutes.

He did not disappoint them.  In fact, Messi moved past Diego Maradona on Argentina's all-scoring list with 35 international goal, tying him with Hernan Crespo. Gabriel Batistuta is the leader with 56 goals.

Midfielder Marco Pappa and forward Minor Lopez had the best scoring opportunities for the Guatemalans, but Messi took over the show as he recorded his third international hat-trick.

Messi struck with a left-footed shot from outside the penalty area for a 1-0 Argentine lead past goalkeeper Ricardo Jerez in the 15th minute. He crossed the ball to Augusto Fernandez, whose header doubled the score in the 35th minute, before converting a penalty kick in the 39th minute.

The Barcelona forward completed his hat-trick as he side-footed a low cross from Ezequiel Lavezzi from 12 yards for the final goal in the 49th minute.

 Guatemala's next game is on July 5 against the United States in San Diego, California.