Thiago Almada and Lionel Messi scored for Argentina in their first home game since winning the World Cup in December, a 2-0 friendly victory over Panama.
With the same starting lineup that won the World Cup against France, Lionel Scaloni’s side looked dominant early on against Panama but was unable to score until the second half.
Almada of Atlanta United FC scored his first goal for his country after a free kick by Messi hit the left post in the 79th minute.
Captain Messi finally got his 800th career goal and doubled the advantage in the 89th minute with a stunning free kick that sailed into the top right corner to excite the more than 80,000 spectators shouting his name at the Monumental Stadium.
After the final whistle, Messi and his Argentina colleagues celebrated by inviting their families and young supporters onto the field, where they raised replica World Cup trophies and set off fireworks.
An emotional Messi told the crowd:
“I always dreamed of this moment, celebrating with you, To come to my country and lift a Copa America, the Finalissima and the greatest of all the trophies, the World Cup”.
“I know this is our day to celebrate, but I don’t want to forget all the teammates who were here before, who also put everything on the field to achieve this and we were very close before”.
“They deserve all the recognition of the Argentine fans because they always did their best for these colors.”
A tearful Scaloni added:
“Eternal gratitude to these players. Football belongs to them and without them we wouldn’t have won the World Cup. Everyone who wears this shirt gives their all and sometimes the results don’t come. But this time we got it and it’s incredible.”
On Tuesday, March 21, 2023, Panama will play Costa Rica in the CONCACAF Nations League, while Argentina will play Curacao in a friendly to prolong their homecoming after winning the World Cup. Messi has a chance to record his 100th goal for Argentina in the friendly.
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Argentina vs Panama Highlights
Each player received a replica World Cup, and Lionel Messi and Lionel Scaloni thanked the sold-out crowd after the game.
Juampi Reynoso shared a Tweet after the victory of Argentina and said, “We will never, ever stop being excited”.
Nunca, pero nunca, vamos a dejar de emocionarnos.
Gracias por esta alegría.
— Juampi Reynoso (@juampireynoso) March 24, 2023
Liga Profesional de Fútbol shared a Tweet on their official Twitter account saying that “Exciting celebration in the Mâs Monumental with the World Champions”.
¡Siempre fue #TodosJuntos! 💙
Emocionante festejo en el Mâs Monumental con los Campeones del Mundo 🌟🌟🌟 pic.twitter.com/qdTmjU6b2i
— Liga Profesional de Fútbol (@LigaAFA) March 24, 2023
J. Tweeted, “Panama players are lining up for Messi autographs and photos after the game”.
Panama players are lining up for Messi autographs and photos after the game.. which other player gets this treatment? 😭 pic.twitter.com/VITd2nASqM
— J. (@Messilizer) March 24, 2023
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