Lionel Messi warms up for 2022 World Cup with a goal as Argentina thrash UAE

 (AP)
(AP)

Argentina warmed up for the World Cup with a 5-0 hammering of the United Arab Emirates in Abu Dhabi on Wednesday.

A brace from Angel Di Maria and goals from Julian Alvarez, Lionel Messi and Joaquin Correa extended the South American champions’ unbeaten run to 36 games.

Roared on by the Mohammad Bin Zayed Stadium crowd, Argentina took the lead when Messi collected a pass from Di Maria and found himself with the goalkeeper to beat, but unselfishly set up Alvarez for his third international goal in the 17th minute.

Di Maria doubled Argentina's lead eight minutes later with a superb volley, after Marcos Acuna crossed into the area from the left, as the twice-winners found their groove ahead of the World Cup, which starts in Qatar on Sunday.

The forward, who overcame a hamstring injury last month to be named in manager Lionel Scaloni's World Cup squad, struck in the 36th as he dribbled past several UAE defenders and slotted home as Argentina put their opponents to the sword.

Messi joined in the fun a minute before halftime with a fine shot into the corner after a pass from Di Maria while substitute Correa completed the rout following the break with a deflected goal in the 60th minute.

Argentina, who will return to Qatar on Thursday, face Saudi Arabia in their opener on November 22 before matches against Mexico and Poland in Group C.

Additional reporting be Reuters.