Messi scores his 800th goal in a World Cup celebration match as Argentina defeats Panama.

Argentina's first match on home soil after their 2022 World Cup triumph ended in victory with two late goals over Panama.

Thiago Almada got the breakthrough goal for the home side with 10 minutes left, cleaning up a play that began with a Lionel Messi free kick that struck the left post.

Messi scored his 800th career goal as a professional, finally putting home a pinpoint free kick after striking the post twice on set pieces during the match.

Panama's reserve players held the defending World Cup champions scoreless, thanks in part to strong defending and timely saves by goalkeeper Jose Guerra.

Second-half substitute Almada continued his strong form shown for his club side Atlanta United, and Messi transformed himself once again in an Argentina shirt.

There were celebrations and musical acts before the match, and the party continued after the final whistle.

The next match will be against 86th-ranked Curacao in Santiago del Estero, where another day of festivities is expected.

Argentina (4-3-3, right to left): 23-E. Martinez (GK) — 26-Molina, 13-Romero, 19-Otamendi (25-Li. Martinez, 46'), 3-Tagliafico (8-Acuna, 66') — 20-Mac Allister (16-Almada, 46'), 24-E. Fernandez (5-Paredes, 61'), 7-De Paul — 10-Messi, 9-J. Alvarez (22-La. Martinez, 46'), 11-Di Maria (21-Dybala, 61').

Panama (5-4-1, right to left): 12-Guerra (GK) — 2-I. Anderson, 13-Ramos, 4-Farina (14-Hernandez, 65'), 5-Peralta, 3-Galvan (16-Casazola, 70') — 19-Cordoba (20-Browne, 46'), 6-Gudino (8-Moran, 65'), 11-Murillo (10-Camargo, 77'), 17-'Cliquiti' Quintero (18-Medina, 46') — 9-Stephen

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