Messi eyes another milestone after Argentina success
March 23, 2013 -- Updated 1855 GMT (0255 HKT)
Lionel Messi was on target as Argentina defeated Venezuela 3-0 in Buenos Aires.
- Lionel Messi scored his 32nd international goal to help Argentina defeat Venezuela
- Real Madrid's Gonzalo Higuain also on target in 3-0 World Cup qualifier win
- Colombia looks good for Brazil 2014 after thrashing Bolivia
- Luis Suarez on target in Uruguay's 1-1 draw with Paraguay
(CNN) -- Lionel Messi is just two goals behind Diego Maradona's international total of 34 after guiding Argentina ever closer to qualifying for next year's World Cup in Brazil.
The four-time World Player of the Year netted from the penalty spot as Argentina eased to a 3-0 win over Venezuela as it remained four points clear at the top of the South American group.
Real Madrid's Gonzalo Higuain scored twice to take him to 10 goals for the qualifying campaign, but it was Messi who stole the show once again.
Read: Magical Messi shows no sign of stopping
The 25-year-old has repeatedly vowed to win the one prize to have eluded him so far in his astonishing career- the World Cup.
Boateng: Racism in football must end
What does David Beckham give to PSG?
CNN FC: PSG's gamble on David Beckham
Not since 1986 when Maradona led Argentina to glory has the country won the tournament -- a statistic that Messi is desperate to change.
After an incredible 2012 where he scored 91 goals for club and country, surpassing the previous record of 85 by Germany's Gerd Muller, Messi looks set to break new ground once again.
This season alone he has scored 61 goals in 51 matches for club and country with 55 of those coming in 43 matches for Barcelona and six in eight appearances for Argentina.
Messi still has a way to go until he passes Gabriel Batistuta, who holds Argentina's all-time record with 56 goals from 78 matches.
But his priority is success in Brazil next year -- a target which is looking eminently possible.
"We have a forward line that can be considered among the best in the world," Argentina coach Alejandro Sabella told reporters.
"Venezuela are a tough team, very compact, who know what they want. What happened was that Argentina played very well, especially in the first half and were very superior."
Messi will hope to move past Maradona on Tuesday when Argentina head to the high altitude city of La Paz to face a Bolivia side which won its last meeting between the two 6-1.
Read: 'Tiger' Falcao prowls for goals
Elsewhere, Colombia looks set to end its 16-year wait to play in a World Cup after thrashing Bolivia 5-0.
MacNelly Torres gave Colombia a first half lead with Carlos Valdez, Teofilo Guttierez, Radamel Falcao and Pablo Armero all scoring after the break.
Jose Pekerman's side is four points adrift of leader Argentina but has played a game less.
Liverpool's Luis Suarez hit his eighth goal of the qualifying campaign to help Uruguay secure a 1-1 draw against Paraguay to leave it in fourth position.
Peru, which has not played at a World Cup since 1982, remains in the hunt following a 1-0 win against Chile following Jefferson Farfan's strike.
Part of complete coverage on
August 15, 2014 -- Updated 1151 GMT (1951 HKT)
Last season Jose Mourinho wrote off the title of hopes of his "little horse" -- but now he has a squad primed to dethrone Manchester City.
August 14, 2014 -- Updated 1858 GMT (0258 HKT)
Luis Suarez will have to wait until late October to make his competitive Barcelona debut his ban for biting an opponent was partially upheld.
August 14, 2014 -- Updated 1649 GMT (0049 HKT)
Can Louis van Gaal cut it at Manchester United? Will Bayern conquer all in Germany? Is this PSG's year to win the Champions League?
August 7, 2014 -- Updated 1012 GMT (1812 HKT)
It's been a difficult year for Barcelona on and off the pitch, and the signing of Luis Suarez has only increased the prospect of more controversy.
August 11, 2014 -- Updated 1435 GMT (2235 HKT)
Germany striker Miroslav Klose, who scored a total of 16 goals at four World Cup finals, has announced his retirement from international football.
July 31, 2014 -- Updated 1145 GMT (1945 HKT)
When celebrating an important anniversary, it's always good to look your best. At least that's theory for a Spanish football team's preseason tuxedo kit.
July 30, 2014 -- Updated 1103 GMT (1903 HKT)
While many top European clubs are targeting the U.S. market, French football is setting its sights on expanding into Asia -- with China playing a key role.
July 27, 2014 -- Updated 1229 GMT (2029 HKT)
Major League Soccer has snared another big name from England with former Chelsea star Frank Lampard committing his future to New York City FC.
July 23, 2014 -- Updated 1656 GMT (0056 HKT)
Europe's top clubs have booked a summer holiday to the U.S. -- but this is business not pleasure as they look to cash in on the World Cup afterglow.
July 22, 2014 -- Updated 1828 GMT (0228 HKT)
Former World Cup-winning captain Dunga is appointed coach of Brazil's national team for the second time, charged with restoring national pride.
July 22, 2014 -- Updated 1420 GMT (2220 HKT)
Colombia's World Cup star James Rodriguez continues Real Madrid's long tradition of signing "Galacticos."
July 21, 2014 -- Updated 1007 GMT (1807 HKT)
Germany's World Cup-winning captain Philipp Lahm has decided to go out at the top by announcing his retirement from international football.
Today's five most popular stories