WATCH: Lionel Messi scores a brace as Argentina begin Copa America preparations in style

Copa America 2019: Cavani strike hands Uruguay win over Chile

On Friday, Lionel Messi’s Argentina began their preparations for the Copa America 2019 in terrific fashion, defeating Nicaragua 5-1 in an International Friendly held at San Juan, Argentina.

Messi himself was Argentina’s main hero on the game, scoring a quick-fire brace that gave his team a solid lead in the first-half before Lautaro Martinez added two more goals followed by Roberto Pereyra who scored their fifth of the day.

The Barcelona legend opened the scoring with a solo effort that involved dribbling past four defenders, in the 37th minute. A minute later, he added his second by rebounding a Sergio Aguero shot that was initially saved by Nicaragua goalkeeper Justo Lorente.

Inter Milan’s Lautaro Martinez then came off the bench and scored two goals within a space of ten minutes, in the second-half, His first goal came in the 63rd minute and the second goal came in the 73rd minute. Eight minutes later, Pereyra scored Argentina’s final goal of the day.

Nicaragua’s Juan Barrera netted a penalty in the first minute of injury time (90 + 1′) and that offered some consolation to the visitors.

Watch the game highlights, right here.

Coming up next for Argentina is their Copa America campaign, which they will begin by facing James Rodriguez’ Colombia in Salvador on June 15. Argentina were runners-up on both occasions when the tournament was conducted previously – 2015 and 2016 – they lost to Chile in both finals.

Lionel Messi famously retired from International Football after Argentina’s Copa America 2016 defeat, only to return the following year to help them qualify for the FIFA World Cup 2018. He removed himself from national duty once again – post their round-of-16 exit in Russia in 2018, but returned to the circuit in March with the hopes of winning an international title for his country.

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