(Football news) Argentina celebrated their World Cup success by beating Panama 2-0 in a friendly with goals from Thiago Almada and Lionel Messi in the second half as fans were treated to an exhibition amid a festive atmosphere in their first game in front of their home fans after winning the World Cup. Lionel Scaloni started with the same XI that started in the World Cup final win over France. Argentina looked dominant from the start, but they could not break through the Panama defence.
It was Atlanta United FC star player Thiago Almada who opened the scoring in the 79th minute with his first international goal after he capitalised on a rebound after a brilliant free kick from Messi. Then Messi himself scored his 800th career goal as he went on to double the lead in the 89th minute with another brilliant free kick but this time the ball went straight into the top right corner to give the 80,000 fans the moment they have been waiting as they kept chanting his name at the Monumental Stadium.
The party started even before the final whistle, with the family members and children joining Messi and his Argentina teammates on the pitch to celebrate with the fans cheering on their champion side, who hoisted replica World Cup trophies. Argentina now will shift their focus to a friendly against Curacao on Tuesday as Messi will have the chance to score his 100th goal for his country while Panama face Costa Rica in the CONCACAF Nations League.
“I always dreamed of this moment, celebrating with you,” an emotional Messi told the crowd. “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 colours.”
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.”