Lionel Messi
Lionel Messi silenced the critics, who have criticized his performances for Argentina, with a hat-trick to remember against great rivals Brazil. Reuters

Lionel Messi scored a breathtaking hat-trick as Argentina beat Brazil 4-3 in an action-packed friendly in New Jersey.

Friendly or not, Argentina and Brazil remains one the great rivalries in the game and the two glory-laden nations put on a show to remember in front of packed MetLife Stadium.

Brazil was coming into the match off the back of a 2-0 defeat to Mexico as they continued their preparations to host the 2014 World Cup. Argentina, meanwhile, beat Ecuador 4-0 a week ago to claim top spot in South American qualifying for the tournament in two years' time.

It was Brazil, though, who took the lead in this contest through young defensive midfielder Borges Rumulo after 23 minutes. His shot squirming through the hands of Argentina goalkeeper Sergio Romero.

But then Messi took over. First, in the 31st minute, Gonzalo Higuain played the Barcelona forward through to race clear and slide the ball past Rafael and into the back of the net.

Just three minutes later he made it 2-1 with an almost replica strike. On this occasion Angel Di Maria laid Messi in before the No.10 took the ball around Rafael and slotted home.

Brazil would come back into the game, however, with a fine strike of their own. Oscar played the ball into striker Leandro Damiao and continued his run forward to get the ball back and finish coolly from close range. And the Selecao went back in front as flapped at a corner and gifted the ball to Hulk, who finished impressively with his left-foot from a tight angle.

With 15 minutes remaining Argentina hit back from a corner of their own as Francisco Fernandez rose highest to head home.

Then came the moment of the match as Messi completed his hat-trick in stunning style. The twinkle-toed Rosario-native burst clear from the left, cutting inside an unleashing an unstoppable left-footed strike into the top corner of the net.

There was just enough time on the clock for the stunning play to be added to by a moment of controversy as both Ezequiel Lavezzi and Marcelo were shown their marching order.

BRAZIL 3-4 ARGENTINA Match highlights HD 09.06...

by vik2003