Argentina and Peru kick-started their final preparations for the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia™ with morale-boosting home wins on Tuesday, while Panama had to settle for a scoreless draw against the visiting Northern Ireland.

Lionel Messi grabbed the spotlight in Buenos Aires with a hat-trick as the home side put four unanswered goals past Haiti.

The five-time FIFA World Player of the Year scored a quickfire second-half double to add to a first-half penalty, before setting up Sergio Aguero for the final goal of the match.

It was a night of celebration for another Barcelona star as Javier Mascherano joined Javier Zanetti as Argentina’s most-capped player with 143 caps.

Peru scored a confident 2-0 win over an inexperienced Scotland with goals either side of half-time in Lima.

Christian Cueva converted a spot-kick eight minutes before the break, while Jefferson Farfan added the second just after the resumption.

There was a celebratory atmosphere in Panama City, but no goals for local fans to celebrate.

Panama came closest to breaking the deadlock but Edgar Joel Barcenas saw his first-half header come back off the crossbar.