Messi nets his fastest Argentina goal in win over Australia

Lionel Messi delighted Argentina fans in Beijing when he scored the fastest goal of his international career, netting after 79 seconds as the world champions beat Australia 2-0 in a friendly at a raucous Workers' Stadium on Thursday.

Fans immediately got their money's worth when Argentina won the ball in Australia's half in the second minute and Enzo Fernandez found Messi, who sidestepped two defenders before beating the keeper with a curling shot from outside the box.

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Messi, who last week confirmed he wanted to move to American side Inter Miami, has now scored in seven straight games for Argentina and the country's talisman has shown no signs of slowing down ahead of his 36th birthday next week.

"We always enjoy being with the national team," Messi said. "It was complicated to play because of the heat and humidity, but beyond everything we continued with the same idea."

Messi has been the focus of attention ever since he landed in Beijing last week.

The Argentina captain has legions of supporters in China where soccer is popular and fans often look further afield for teams to follow given the poor state of the men's national side.

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The areas around the stadium and the hotel where Messi and his team mates have been staying have been awash with people wearing replica Argentina jerseys in recent days.

Hundreds queued outside the hotel each day in the hope of catching a glimpse of Messi leaving for training.

A sea of blue-and-white had greeted the teams as they stepped out onto the pitch with an overwhelming majority of the 68,000 capacity crowd sporting Argentina colours.

"I can't see any yellow shirts anywhere," Australia coach Graham Arnold said before the match.

"I just really hope Lionel Messi gets a little percentage of the shirt sales because I've never seen so many Argentine number 10 shirts in my life!"

Argentina doubled their lead in the second half when Rodrigo De Paul floated in an enticing cross into the box and substitute German Pezzella found space between two defenders to fire home a free header.

Just before the corner was taken for the goal, a fan in a Messi jersey ran onto the pitch and briefly hugged the bemused Argentine, dodged several flailing security personnel, ran to the centre circle and high-fived goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez.

Roared on by the capacity crowd, he continued to outmanoeuvre and outpace stewards before running back to Australia's box where they eventually got hold of him and took him away.