Lionel Messi has sent an ominous warning out to his World Cup rivals, hitting a hat trick as Argentina cruised to a 4-0 friendly win over Haiti on Tuesday.
The Barcelona star cooly slotted home a penalty to break the deadlock in the 17th minute before adding two more goals in eight second-half minutes at La Bombonera.
Messi then turned provider, setting up substitute Sergio Aguero for the final goal with 21 minutes remaining.
“I want to thank all the fans that supported us tonight,” Messi told TyC Sports after the match. “More than the result we were able to say goodbye to our fans and enjoy their support. I really appreciate all the love from our fans.
“We are not going to the World Cup as favorites but we are a great team with players ready to fight against anyone. This group of players have been together for a long time and we really want to go for an important title.
“We are going to Russia with all the enthusiasm. We will put all what we have on the field as our fans always ask. We are the first ones who want to accomplish the dream of winning the World Cup.”
Elsewhere, a makeshift and inexperienced Scotland side were beaten but not disgraced in their 2-0 loss to World Cup-bound Peru at the frenzied Estadio Nacional in Lima.
It was all going pretty well for Alex McLeish’s men until the 37th minute when Christian Cueva scored from the spot after defender Scott McKenna had handled in the penalty area.
Lokomotiv Moscow’s Jefferson Farfan made it 2-0 from close range in the 47th minute with Millwall keeper Jordan Archer, one of four starting debutants, looking culpable again after his misjudgement had led to the earlier penalty.
In Panama City, Northern Ireland were unable to spoil Panama’s World Cup send-off party as the hosts drew with another home nation ahead of facing England in Russia next month.
Having drawn 1-1 with Wales in November, Los Canaleros held a strong Northern Irish side to a 0-0 draw.
Michael O’Neill handed debuts to three players, all from the bench, and his team were fortunate that Edgar Joel Barcenas’ first-half header came back off the crossbar on an evening of celebration for the Panamanians ahead of their first World Cup.
Information from PA Sport was used in this report.