Lionel Messi scores an amazing hat trick in just 19 minutes
Well, that didn't take Lionel Messi very long.
The Argentine superstar proved why he is regarded as one of the best ever by scoring a stunning hat trick in the span of just 19 minutes on Friday night in the Copa America Centenario.
As a second-half sub entering Argentina's group stage match against a 10-man Panama just after the hour mark, it took Messi only seven minutes to start scoring in route to a 5-0 win for Argentina.
When the final whistle blew and Messi tallied just 29 minutes of total action in Copa America, he was already tied in the lead for the Golden Boot on his quick hat trick. Messi had missed Argentina's group opener against Chile due to a back injury he suffered before the tournament.
Fans were anxious to see the Barcelona star make his Copa America debut:
His first goal was a bit of a poacher's goal as a poor clearance from the Panama backline bounced fortuitously toward Messi:
But he followed it up 10 minutes later with a memorable strike that is surely an early contender for one of the tournament's best. Lined up 25 yards out from goal, he drove a curling, left-footed rocket into the upper right-hand corner:
Messi wasn't finished. He capped off his night by collecting a pass, cutting through a crowded box of red shirts and firing to beat goalkeeper Jaime Penedo:
Messi now has 53 international goals, three shy of Gabriel Batistuta's record for Argentina.
Argentina were considered a favorite to win Copa America, and with Messi back in action, Argentina are a good bet to go far. Argentina and Messi return to action on Tuesday when they face Bolivia live on FS1.