BUENOS AIRES, March 25 (Xinhua) -- Lionel Messi scored his 81st international goal as Argentina cruised to a 3-0 home win over Venezuela in their World Cup qualifier here on Friday.
Nico Gonzalez opened the scoring in the 35th minute at La Bombonera with a sliding first-time finish on Rodrigo de Paul's cross.
Substitute Angel Di Maria made it 2-0 with a superb chipped effort from the edge of the box after spotting goalkeeper Wuilker Farinez off his line.
Di Maria then turned provider with a lofted cross that Messi controlled with his chest before poking a shot past Farinez with his weaker right foot.
The 34-year-old Paris Saint-Germain forward has now scored 81 times in 159 appearances for his country.
Argentina, who have already qualified for the World Cup in Qatar later this year, remain second in the 10-team South American zone standings with 38 points from 16 matches, four points behind leaders Brazil. Venezuela are last with 10 points.
Argentina will meet Ecuador in Quito in the last round of South America's World Cup qualifiers on Tuesday while Venezuela will host Colombia.