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.
Today's five most popular stories
Part of complete coverage on
December 16, 2014 -- Updated 1123 GMT (1923 HKT)
After 20 years, more than 300 goals and a host of major honors, Thierry Henry has called time on his glittering football career.
December 19, 2014 -- Updated 1014 GMT (1814 HKT)
They do things differently at Sociedad Deportiva Eibar, up in the mist-cloaked valleys of the Basque country. And it is working.
December 10, 2014 -- Updated 1353 GMT (2153 HKT)
He might be struggling to score goals for Liverpool, but Mario Balotelli's cheeky tweet about the British monarch hit the spot during the World Cup.
October 28, 2014 -- Updated 1253 GMT (2053 HKT)
They splash the cash on the world's best players, now Real Madrid are giving the Bernabeu the same treatment with a bling makeover.
October 27, 2014 -- Updated 1309 GMT (2109 HKT)
Football world mourns South African captain Senzo Meyiwa who was shot and killed during a botched robbery in a township near Johannesburg.
October 21, 2014 -- Updated 1348 GMT (2148 HKT)
From the ancient ruins of Rome, a new empire rises. But the eyes of the city's newest gladiator light up at thoughts of the Colosseum.
October 21, 2014 -- Updated 1622 GMT (0022 HKT)
Once part of Germany's largest Jewish sports club, now he's the first ISIS suspect to stand trial in a country left shocked by his alleged radicalization.
October 17, 2014 -- Updated 1411 GMT (2211 HKT)
One goal in eight matches for new club Liverpool, and dumped by the Italian national team -- Mario Balotelli has yet to shine on his English return.
October 18, 2014 -- Updated 1819 GMT (0219 HKT)
Should a convicted rapist, who has served their time in prison, be allowed to resume their old job? What if that job was as a high-profile football player?
October 16, 2014 -- Updated 1247 GMT (2047 HKT)
After 10 years of golden glory, it's easy to see how Lionel Messi has taken his place among the football gods.
October 16, 2014 -- Updated 1034 GMT (1834 HKT)
When will the tears stop? A leading Italian football club is pursuing a new direction -- under the guidance of its new Indonesian owner.
October 13, 2014 -- Updated 2241 GMT (0641 HKT)
Norwegian 15-year-old Martin Odegaard is the youngest player ever to feature in a European Championships qualifying match.
October 10, 2014 -- Updated 1310 GMT (2110 HKT)
After revolutionizing cricket with its glitzy Twenty20 league, India has now thrown large sums of money at a new football venture.
October 2, 2014 -- Updated 1453 GMT (2253 HKT)
Get ruthless. That is Rio Ferdinand's message to soccer's authorities in the fight to tackle the scourge of racism.
September 10, 2014 -- Updated 1328 GMT (2128 HKT)
He's just 15 and the world is seemingly already at his feet. Norway's Martin Odegaard is being sought by Europe's top clubs.