Lionel Messi scored a hat-trick as Argentina beat Brazil 4-3 in a lively friendly on Saturday, dealing a blow to the Brazilians as they wrapped up their preparations for the London Olympics.
Brazil took the lead in the 23rd minute when a quickly taken free-kick found Romulo, who banged in the goal as Argentina’s defenders appealed in vain for offside.
Argentina equalized in the 31st minute after Gonzalo Higuain robbed Brazilian captain Sandro and fed Messi, who shot low into the corner of the goal.
Within three minutes, the diminutive striker put Argentina 2-1 up, running on to a pass from Angel di Maria and rounding Brazilian goalkeeper Rafael Cabral.
Brazil got back in the end-to-end game in the second half when Oscar scored from close range after 56 minutes and then reclaimed the lead when Hulk took advantage of a fumble by Argentine goalkeeper Sergio Romero to score.
But Argentina stormed back quickly as Federico Fernandez headed in from a corner in the 75th minute before Messi scored the best goal of the game with a trademark run and shot from outside the penalty area in the 84th minute.
Brazil’s Marcelo and Argentina’s Ezequiel Lavezzi were sent off for an altercation in injury time.
The game was played in front of a sell-out crowd of nearly 82,000 at Meadowlands Stadium, home of New York’s two American football teams, the Giants and the Jets.