Lionel Messi should be appreciated by fans of all countries at the World Cup as he will be missed like Roger Federer "and more" when he retires, says Argentina coach Lionel Scaloni.

Messi scored twice from the bench in Argentina's 3-0 win over Jamaica on Tuesday, their penultimate friendly before Qatar 2022.

The Albiceleste head to the finals as one of the favourites, having won the Copa America last year.

That was Messi's long-awaited first major international honour, and this could be the 35-year-old's last chance to win a World Cup, having lost in the 2014 final.

Although the Paris Saint-Germain superstar remains on top of his game, scoring six goals across his past four matches for club and country, Scaloni knows he cannot go on forever.

And the Argentina boss expects Messi's eventual retirement will be received with the same outpouring that met tennis legend Federer's decision to quit the sport last week.

"[Messi] is like Federer," Scaloni said after the Jamaica game.

"He retired and what happened when he retired? Everybody [was] excited, everybody is thinking, 'he won't be here anymore, he's not going to play anymore'.

"How many of us would like to see Federer play tennis? Because it was wonderful to watch him play. The same will happen with [Messi] and more, because football is a sport that moves much more.

"So, let's enjoy him. Everyone enjoys him regardless of the country, it's wonderful to see him.

"I have the possibility of training him, but I would be a fan, I would pay a ticket to see him and I would buy his shirt, regardless of the country.

"So, the only thing left is to enjoy him, because I don't know if something like this will ever be repeated. So, you have to enjoy him and nothing else."

Argentina were never in any danger during their 3-0 friendly win against Jamaica on Tuesday, played at a neutral site in the United States' Red Bull Arena.

Alvarez opened the scoring in the 13th minute thanks to some terrific work from Lautaro Martinez, who was able to snake his way into the box, beating multiple defenders to get to the touchline and drag one back along the edge of the six-yard box for a simple tap-in.

Argentina continued to create half-chances throughout the remainder of the first half, and it was more of the same to begin the second 45, with Martinez going close after a slick one-touch pass from Alexis Mac Allister gave him some space inside the box, but he pushed his shot wide of the far-post.

Lionel Messi was subbed on in the 56th minute, and just 10 minutes later he had his first chance after a one-two on the edge of the area allowed him to break into the left-hand side of the box, but his shot from a sharp angle was easily thwarted at the near post.

But fans in attendance would get what they came for in the 87th minute, when Messi picked up a deflected pass just outside the penalty area and fired his left-foot shot hard and low across his body into the bottom-right corner.

Just two minutes later Argentina were awarded a free kick in the same spot, and Messi again converted, this time around the wall into the bottom-left corner.

What does it mean? Argentina now two games away from history

With this result, Argentina are now unbeaten in their past 35 games dating back to their loss in the 2019 Copa America semi-final against Brazil. 

Italy holds the record at 37 games without a loss – which they set just last year. Argentina's next two games will be in the World Cup against Saudi Arabia and Mexico, and if they make it through unscathed, they will play Poland for the new record.

Messi the super sub

Despite only playing 35 minutes, Messi led all players with five shots, four shots on target and three successful dribbles. Only Alvarez (three) created more chances than Messi's two, and he scored two goals for his second consecutive international fixture after also netting a double against Honduras this past weekend.

Reid struggles with Argentinian physicality

Bobby Reid had a difficult outing down the left-hand side, being credited with only two duels won from 11 tries – the lowest percentage on the pitch. He also had a passing accuracy of 77 per cent, which was one of the lowest marks from either side, while attempting no shots and creating no chances.

What's next? 

Argentina will take their unbeaten streak into the World Cup, where they will play Saudi Arabia first up. Jamaica do not have any fixtures scheduled until March's CONCACAF Nations League.

Tite has slammed Dylan Bronn's challenge on Neymar during Brazil's win over Tunisia, claiming it was "a move to take a player out of the World Cup".

The Selecao completed their preparations for Qatar with a commanding 5-1 victory in Paris, with Neymar among the goals as his penalty took him to 75 at international level.

But the Paris Saint-Germain forward was subjected to a heavy challenge in the 42nd minute by Tunisia defender Bronn, who was sent off.

And while Tite welcomed the competitive nature of the friendly with Jalel Kadri's side, who were unbeaten in seven games, the Brazil coach was far from pleased with the treatment of his talisman.

"We were in an atmosphere where most of the fans were from Tunisia," he said. "At some points, I tried to locate our fans, they diluted. This has created an atmosphere of competitive play.

"The game on the pitch – we knew it would be competitive, loyal, but I didn't imagine the move that happened to Neymar. It's a move to take a player out of the World Cup.

"We try to make two friendlies with teams that are in the World Cup, because the degree of demand is very high, physical, technical and mental. Tunisia had seven games unbeaten.

"The competitive spirit doesn't allow you to play a friendly that doesn't have an emotional clash, so we wanted to prepare, and we were going to take that risk, yes. But it's what we decided."

The five-time world champions head to Qatar later this year on a 15-match unbeaten streak – winning their last seven – ahead of facing Serbia, Switzerland and Cameroon in Group G.

A banana was thrown at Richarlison during Brazil's friendly against Tunisia in Paris, the Brazilian Football Confederation (CBF) said.

Richarlison scored the Selecao's second goal in a 5-1 win at the Parc des Princes on Tuesday.

But the victory in Brazil's final match before the World Cup was soured by reports of a racist gesture aimed at the Tottenham forward.

Video footage appeared to show a banana land near Richarlison as he celebrated his goal, and the CBF confirmed the incident on social media.

"Unfortunately, after the goal, a banana was thrown on the pitch towards Richarlison, scorer of the second Brazilian goal," a short statement read.

"The CBF reinforces its position to combat racism and repudiates any prejudiced manifestation."

Gio Reyna was substituted early on during the United States' limp 0-0 draw with Saudi Arabia on Tuesday, dealing them an injury scare less than two months before the start of the World Cup.

The Borussia Dortmund winger, who is expected to play a key role for Gregg Berhalter's men in Qatar, bowed out after just half an hour of the team's final pre-tournament friendly in Murcia, being replaced by Paul Arriola.

The teenager's departure will have set alarm bells ringing, particularly given he missed much of last season after suffering several muscle injuries.

A statement on the national team's social media channels moved to allay those fears, however, indicating the Dortmund man was replaced as a precautionary measure after experiencing "muscle tightness".

Berhalter's side had started brightly in Spain, with Tyler Adams going close from distance, but Saudi Arabia missed the best chance of the first half when DeAndre Yedlin – who was also later substituted through injury – made a last-ditch block to deny Hattan Bahebri.

Jesus Ferreira could only manage a tame attempt when presented with the USA's best opportunity of the second half, and they will enter the World Cup in disappointing form, having suffered a dismal 2-0 loss to Japan last week.

 

Neymar closed in on Pele's all-time Brazil goalscoring record as the Selecao eased to a commanding 5-1 win over 10-man Tunisia at the Parc des Princes.

Playing on his home ground at club level, the Paris Saint-Germain forward netted his 75th senior international goal from the penalty spot – moving two shy of equalling the tally of legendary striker Pele.

Raphinha struck twice, while Richarlison and Pedro were also on target as Tite's side completed their World Cup preparations in emphatic fashion.

Montassar Talbi scored what proved a consolation for Tunisia, who had Dylan Bronn sent off as they suffered their first defeat in eight games.

Brazil led in the 11th minute when Casemiro's floated ball into the box was met by Raphinha, who sent a looping header beyond the dive of Aymen Dahmen.

Tunisia responded as Talbi nodded in from Anis Ben Slimane's free-kick, but the Selecao regained the lead less than two minutes later with Richarlison latching onto Raphinha's neat throughball and drilling through Dahmen's legs.

Neymar made it 3-1 when he calmly converted from 12 yards after Aissa Laidouni dragged down Casemiro, before Raphinha fired home his second goal of the game from Richarlison's lay-off.

Tunisia were reduced to 10 men before the break with Bronn shown a straight red card for a rash challenge on Neymar.

Antony and Vinicius Junior went close to increasing the advantage in the second half, before Pedro scored Brazil's fifth 16 minutes from time – the Flamengo forward brilliantly volleying in his first international goal.

Casemiro and Thiago Silva each almost made it six, but the Selecao had already done more than enough to stretch their unbeaten streak to 15 matches.

Tite has revealed Barcelona asked Brazil to be careful with Raphinha after losing four players to injury during the international break.

Jules Kounde, Ronald Araujo, Frenkie De Jong and Memphis Depay have sustained injuries while they have been away playing for their countries.

Raphinha played 80 minutes of Brazil's 3-0 friendly win over Ghana on Friday and could face Tunisia on Tuesday.

Selecao head coach Tite says Barca requested that the winger's workload is managed.

He said: "In order for there to be maximum transparency, I tell you that today the Barcelona coaching staff spoke to our physical trainer and asked us to be careful of Raphinha.

"They have lost Araujo and for this reason they are worried. They asked us how the player is, if he is training well.

"The calendar of the big clubs is very congested and this worries us because until we meet for the World Cup, the players will play two games a week."

Raphinha has started four of the Blaugrana's six LaLiga matches this season following his big-money move from Leeds United and was on the field for just over an hour in a Champions League defeat to Bayern Munich.

 

Mitch Duke and debutant Jason Cummings scored as Australia beat New Zealand 2-0 in Auckland on Sunday to secure back-to-back wins over the All Whites ahead of the 2022 World Cup.

The Socceroos had beaten New Zealand 1-0 in Brisbane on Thursday and triumphed again at Eden Park despite fielding an entirely different starting XI, netting twice in the second half.

New Zealand arguably were the better side in the first half with a handful of half chances, but lost star striker Chris Wood to an apparent rib injury in the 32nd minute.

Marco Tilio inexplicably missed a golden opportunity on the stroke of half-time from Duke's cutback before the Japan-based forward headed in Connor Metcalfe's cross in the 54th minute.

The hosts had a sniff in the 68th minute when Harrison Delbridge turned over possession in a dangerous area but substitute Alexander Greive fired straight at Australia goalkeeper Andrew Redmayne.

Exciting Socceroos teenager Garang Kuol made his debut as a substitute and burst forward to set up Riley McGree's chance, which was saved before Cummings' rebound was handballed by Liberato Cacace, resulting in an Australia penalty.

Scotland-born Cummings stepped up and converted the 81st-minute spotkick to secure the win in Australia's final game before announcing their World Cup squad.

Hirving Lozano netted a late goal to earn Mexico an uninspiring 1-0 victory over Peru in their friendly in Pasadena on Saturday.

El Tri, who will play three more games prior to the 2022 World Cup, were made to work hard for the win in an evenly contested match with few shots on target.

Lozano's 85th-minute strike was the difference, firing home on the volley after Cesar Montes had nodded on a corner.

Mexico forward Henry Martin pushed a 19th-minute header wide, while Ajax midfielder Edson Alvarez fired a long-range effort over the crossbar early in the second half.

Peru, who missed out on World Cup qualification to Australia in the playoffs, had 9-7 shots and marginally edged possession but failed to generate much in attack.

Mexico, who are grouped with Poland, Argentina and Argentina at the World Cup, will take on Colombia in Santa Clara on Tuesday.

Hirving Lozano netted a late goal to earn Mexico an uninspiring 1-0 victory over Peru in their friendly in Pasadena on Saturday.

El Tri, who will play three more games prior to the 2022 World Cup, were made to work hard for the win in an evenly contested match with few shots on target.

Lozano's 85th-minute strike was the difference, firing home on the volley after Cesar Montes had nodded on a corner.

Mexico forward Henry Martin pushed a 19th-minute header wide, while Ajax midfielder Edson Alvarez fired a long-range effort over the crossbar early in the second half.

Peru, who missed out on World Cup qualification to Australia in the playoffs, had 9-7 shots and marginally edged possession but failed to generate much in attack.

Mexico, who are grouped with Poland, Argentina and Argentina at the World Cup, will take on Colombia in Santa Clara on Tuesday.

Espanyol will demand "corrective measures" from organisers of Friday's friendly between Morocco and Chile following incidents during and after the match at RCDE Stadium.

Fans forced their way into the stadium and there was a pitch invasion after Morocco's 2-0 victory at the home of Espanyol.

The LaLiga club will be seeking answers to ensure there will be no repeat of the scenes.

A club statement said: "RCD Espanyol de Barcelona regret the incidents that occurred this Friday at the RCDE Stadium, during the international friendly match between Morocco and Chile.

"As with other events promoted by third parties, in accordance with the contract for the use of the facility and appealing to the responsibility of this third party in all matters related to the event, the club will demand corrective measures be taken by match organisers regarding every action that has an impact on the integrity of elements of the stadium.

"This experience will be taken into account to attempt to avoid a repeat of such incidents in future events organised by third parties at our facilities.

"Since its inauguration, the RCDE Stadium has hosted many matches and events that have taken place without incident.

"This year, after the conclusion of the 2021/22 LaLiga season, another international friendly and two concerts were held that highlighted the potential of our facility to hold such events.

"The RCDE Stadium is a top-level facility and a source of pride for RCD Espanyol, which brings in revenue and strengthens our club brand on both a local and international level."

Barcelona have confirmed Ronald Araujo suffered a thigh injury while on international duty with Uruguay, adding to the Blaugrana's defensive problems after Jules Kounde sustained a hamstring injury.

Araujo was substituted just five minutes into Uruguay's 1-0 friendly loss to Iran in Austria on Friday, having pulled up less than a minute into the match. 

Earlier on Friday, the French Football Federation announced Jules Kounde was to leave Didier Deschamps' squad after being replaced during their Nations League win over Austria on Thursday.

Barcelona have now revealed the nature of the duo's injuries, with Araujo suffering an avulsion fracture in his right thigh and Kounde having a biceps femoris injury in his left hamstring.

A statement from the Blaugrana did not specify a timeframe for the return of either defender, but reports in Spain have suggested both could be out of action for around a month.

Losing both Araujo and Kounde for any significant period of time would be a major blow for Xavi, who has made the pair defensive mainstays in his new-look team.

Araujo has started all six of Barca's fixtures in LaLiga this season, while Kounde – who has filled in at right-back since his move from Sevilla – has recorded two assists in three league outings for the Catalan giants.

Argentina star Lionel Messi believes he is beginning to find his feet at Paris Saint-Germain, having required a year to settle in after his move to France.

Messi scored just 11 goals in 34 appearances during his first season at PSG in 2021-22, but has already struck six times in 11 outings for the Ligue 1 giants this campaign.

The former Barcelona man is also enjoying himself on the international stage, scoring twice and adding an assist as Argentina extended their unbeaten run to 34 matches with a 3-0 friendly win over Honduras on Friday.

Messi led his team for shots on target (three), touches in the opposition box (nine), crosses (three) and successful dribbles (two) in Miami, completing the scoring with a sumptuous 20-yard chip in the second half.

Speaking to TyC Sports after the victory, Messi compared his current form favourably with that of last season.

"I feel good, different from last year and I knew it was going to be like that," Messi said.

"Last year, as I already said, I had a bad time, I never finished finding myself and this one is different.

"I arrived with a different head, more accommodated to the club, to the locker room, to the game, to my team-mates.

"The truth is that I feel very good and I have enjoyed myself again."

Friday's brace took Messi to 88 goals in 163 senior international caps, and he will join a select group of players to have appeared in five separate World Cups when Argentina begin their campaign against Saudi Arabia on November 22.

The PSG forward believes Lionel Scaloni's men are in a good place as their trip to Qatar approaches and is trying not to think about the possibility of his team suffering injuries before the event.

He added: "It is complicated - there are many games and little rest time, but you have to face it as always.

"If you are going to play matches thinking about the World Cup, taking care of yourself or not messing up, then in the end it can be worse. 

"I am one of those who think that things happen because they happen and if things have to happen they will happen. God willing nothing happens to anyone and we can all arrive at the World Cup as we are.

"We are enjoying every moment that we are together and seriously preparing ourselves when it is time to work, working on many things because it is the last time that we all have to be together, and there will not be much time before the first World Cup match.

"So, we took the opportunity to continue growing what we know and trying new things as well."

Argentina were too good in their dominant 3-0 friendly win against Honduras on Friday, with two goals and an assist from Lionel Messi in a starring performance.

Messi set up a goal and finished a penalty in an excellent first half, before capping off the outing with a long-range chip to capitalise on a defensive mistake.

Julian Alvarez and Giovani Lo Celso also manufactured openings as Argentina racked up 17 shots to Honduras' two, but ultimately this would be the Messi show.

Argentina opened the scoring in the 16th minute, when Messi delivered a spectacular ball from the centre of the park to find Papu Gomez on his run into the box from the left wing, giving him the chance to roll a simple squaring pass to Lautaro Martinez in the six-yard box for a tap-in.

Messi's creativity was on full display again to create the second goal, with an almost identical pass finding Lo Celso breaking into the box from the left wing, before the desperate Honduran defence pulled him down for a penalty.

Messi stepped up to the spot himself and made no mistake, calmly sending the goalkeeper the wrong way and rolling the ball into the bottom-right corner.

Argentina took their foot off the pedal in the second half, but when a mistake in defence saw a loose ball fall for Messi just outside the edge of the penalty area, with no defender between him and the goal, he caught everyone off guard with an audacious and picture-perfect first-time chip over Luis Lopez's head.

What does it mean? Unbeatable Argentina's streak remains intact 

With the win, Argentina remain undefeated in their 34 matches since last losing to Brazil in the Copa America semi-final back in 2019. They are three matches away from tying Italy for the longest international unbeaten streak – a mark they set just last year.

Messi magic at the centre of Argentinian attack

The Paris Saint-Germain star led his team in nearly every important statistical category, including shots on target (three), touches in opposition box (nine), crosses (three) and successful dribbles (two).

His ability to pick out smart runs from the left wing behind the defence was directly responsible for both of the first two goals, and his chip finish for the third was sublime.

Lonely day up top for Quioto

Honduras striker Romell Quioto had very little supply all day as his side finished with 33 per cent possession, but he did himself no favours.

Of his four passes in the final-third, only one found a teammate, and he finished with no shots and no chances created before being subbed off in the 83rd minute.

What's next?

Argentina are scheduled to take on Jamaica in their next friendly on Tuesday in what will be their last match before jetting off to Qatar. Honduras will host Guatemala, also on Tuesday.

Brazil head coach Tite has praised the "impressive" performance of his side regaining possession against Ghana.

The South American side blitzed to a 3-0 win against their African opponents in a friendly in France, Marquinhos opening the scoring inside nine minutes before Richarlison struck a brace before the break.

Victory in Le Havre raises optimism for the five-time World Cup champions before the tournament later this year, with Tite's side excelling in the final third and putting their opponents to the sword.

However, Tite was impressed by the display of his side without possession against Ghana as they quickly responded to win the ball back.

"In the first half, the team mobilised to, after losing possession, immediately regain control of the ball," he said.

"There are several different ways to call it: lose-and-press, five seconds of madness, everyone uses a different term. But our speed in regaining possession was impressive.

"When the balls stopped, the team also went well, it was clean. Coming to France, without the athletes having to change time zone, helped."

In the second half, Brazil were unable to perform entirely up to the standard they displayed in the opening 45 minutes but Tite believes doing so would not have been possible.

"In the first half, the team had pace and the performance, they dominated and controlled. In the second half, Ghana managed to control for 15 minutes, we could not finish them as they had a wall of five players," he explained.

"At the same time, we were solid. If we didn't create, we didn't let our opponent create either. With the entry of fresh players [off the bench], we regained dominance.

"Then we had clear chances to extend our lead. Matheus Cunha had two clear chances, there were chances with Neymar, Rodrygo, Paqueta.

"So, the team was able to do well in these different stages but being equal to what we did in the first half does not always work."

Brazil face Tunisia on Tuesday in their final game before the World Cup commences in Qatar in November.

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