Lionel Messi left in tears by emotional World Cup celebration

Lionel Messi was left in tears as Argentina received an emotional reception ahead of their first match since winning the World Cup in December.

Argentina defeated Panama 2-0 in Buenos Aires and manager Lionel Scaloni named the starting line-up from the World Cup final win over France.

There were festive celebrations at the Monumental de Nunez Stadium as over 83,000 supporters hailed the World Cup champions, Argentina’s first for 36 years.

The night would be a record one for Messi, Argentina’s World Cup-winning captain, as he scored his 800th career goal with a stunning late free-kick to seal the win.

“I always dreamed of this moment, to celebrate with you in my country Argentina, lifting the greatest thing that is the World Cup,” Messi said afterwards.

“Let’s keep doing what we are doing and enjoy this, because we have been waiting a long time to win it again. Let’s enjoy the third star.”

A tearful Scaloni added: "Eternal gratitude to these players. Football belongs to them, and without them we wouldn’t have won the World Cup.

“Everyone who wears this shirt gives their all and sometimes the results don’t come. But this time we got it and it’s incredible.”

Argentina will continue their World Cup winners’ homecoming with a friendly against Curacao on Tuesday