On Friday night, top-ranked Argentina took on 56th ranked Panama. This lopsided match-up took place at Soldier Field in Chicago. Both Panama and Argentina entered the game with 3 points apiece and were tied for 1st place in group D of the Copa America. However, after 90 minutes of play, Argentina demonstrated their superior play with an impressive 5-0 win.
Three of Argentina's goals came from the boot of Lionel Messi. The 28 year old entered the game in the 61st minute much to the delight of all the fans at Soldier Field. For all those decked out in Argentina's trade mark blue and white, their excitement only continued to grow as their superstar netted a hat trick.
Messi's 1st goal of the game came in the 68th minute. A missed clearance bounced square off the face of teammate Gonzalo Higuaín into the path of the great Lionel Messi. It was probably the most painful assist of Higuaín's career. Needless to say, Messi did not miss from 9 yards out.
The 2nd leg of Messi's hat trick came from a free kick in the 78th minute. The Argentinian masterfully spun the ball up and over the Panamanian wall before tucking it into the top right hand side of Panama's net.
Messi completed his hat trick in the 87th minute. The Barcelona star received a pass in Panama's 18 yard box and skillfully dribbled around 2 Panamanian defenders before netting his 3rd and final goal of the match.
Messi's hat trick took him 19 minutes which makes it one of the fastest hat tricks in the Copa America's storied history. The fastest time to score 3 goals was 6 minutes by José Manuel Moreno in 1942. Messi is also only the 2nd player to record a hat trick after coming on as a sub. The other player is Paulo Valentim in 1959.