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Lionel Messi gets hat trick, Argentina beats Haiti

By Alex Butler
Lionel Messi gets hat trick, Argentina beats Haiti
Argentina's Lionel Messi controls the ball during the international friendly soccer match between Argentina and Haiti Tuesday at La Bombonera stadium in Buenos Aires. Photo by David Fernandez/EPA-EFE

May 30 (UPI) -- Argentina's Lionel Messi scored three times in an international friendly victory against Haiti.

Messi netted the hat trick in Argentina's 4-0 triumph Tuesday at La Bombonera in Buenos Aires. He also had an assist.

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His first score of the night came on a penalty kick in the 18th minute. Messi bent the shot around Haiti keeper Johny Placide.

Argentina held the 1-0 edge through the halftime whistle. Messi returned to the scoring column in the 58th minute. Giovani Lo Celso headed a ball on net after getting a pass from Gonzalo Higuain on that play, but the shot was deflected by Placide. Messi followed the shot with an easy right footed finish.

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Messi's final score came in the 66th minute. That time he let Cristian Pavon do most of the work. Pavon dribbled around a group of defenders on the left side of the box, before firing a pass to a wide-open Messi. The five-time Ballon d'Or winner easily buried the shot, blasting it over Placide.

Then came Messi's assist. The Argentina striker threaded a nice through ball into Sergio Aguero on that play. The Manchester City star then ripped a shot into the far post netting.

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"I've said it a lot of times, it doesn't depend on a single player," Messi told reporters. "Even less nowadays as football has become more and more complicated. We have great players individually and little by little we'll grow as a team."

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Argentina begins World Cup play with a group stage match against Iceland at 9 a.m. June 16 at Spartak Stadium in Moscow.

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