Lionel Messi performs one half in Argentina’s 1-0 World Cup qualifying win; Brazil and Venezuela draw

Lionel Messi hit a publish twice after he got here off the bench however struggled to ship a powerful efficiency following his return from harm. Still, Argentina beat Paraguay 1-0 in a South American World Cup qualifying match.

Argentina’s Lionel Messi battles for the ball with Paraguay’s Gustavo Gomez throughout a qualifying match for the FIFA World Cup 2026(AP)

But Argentina’s largest South American rival left the pitch to some jeers at Cuiabá, Brazil after the house aspect and Venezuela drew 1-1. The end result put strain on new Brazil coach Fernando Diniz and stored Argentina as the only leaders of the round-robin competitors with their third victory in three matches.

The subsequent World Cup within the United States, Mexico and Canada is increasing to a 48-team format, that means direct entry to the highest six groups in South America. The seventh-place staff will contest an intercontinental playoff for a berth.

Argentina leads South American World Cup qualifying with 9 factors, adopted by Brazil (7), Colombia (5), Uruguay (4), Chile (4), Venezuela (4), Ecuador (3), Paraguay (1), Peru (1), and Bolivia (0). All 10 groups will play the fourth spherical on Tuesday.

The subsequent spherical will provide the next matchups: Peru vs. Argentina, Uruguay vs. Brazil, Ecuador vs. Colombia, Paraguay vs. Bolivia and Venezuela vs. Chile.


The solely purpose of the match on the Monumental de Nunez Stadium got here within the third minute after a nook kick that discovered Nicolás Otamendi free from marking within the penalty field. The defender smashed the ball into the online with a left-foot volley.

The 36-year-old Messi has felt muscular pains in his proper leg which have sidelined him for a number of matches at his membership Inter Miami. Coach Lionel Scaloni picked Nico Gonzalez as his substitute. The star substituted Julián Álvarez within the 52nd minute, when Argentina was already within the lead.

Messi hit the publish in a nook kick he took 10 minutes after stepping on the pitch of the Monumental de Nuñez Stadium in Buenos Aires, however his different efforts to dribble and provides deep passes fell flat.

A free kick from the identical spot the place he scored the winner towards Ecuador in September raised hopes for Argentina followers shortly earlier than the ultimate whistle, however Messi’s shot hit the proper publish.

“I get very calm when we have Leo on the pitch,” midfielder Rodrigo De Paul mentioned after the match. “We are at a very good level. We feel comfortable with the way we are playing.”

Paraguay’s new coach Daniel Garnero had his debut towards Argentina, and his staff gave little proof of attacking energy. The 54-year-old coach took over from Guillermo Barros Schelotto final month after the primary two qualifiers.

Messi missed 4 MLS matches for his membership plus the U.S. Open Cup last. He performed 10 minutes on Saturday in Inter Miami’s 1-0 loss to Cincinnati. He additionally skipped Argentina’s 3-0 win at Bolivia in one other World Cup qualifying match in September.


For the primary time, Brazil didn’t beat Venezuela at dwelling. Neymar, Vinicius Júnior and Richarlison struggled all the first half to get a transparent shot on purpose.

Seconds after Neymar obtained his first massive alternative after the break, with a shot from the sting of the field, Brazil scored its purpose with an help from the Al-Hilal participant.

Neymar took a nook kick that resulted in a detailed vary header by Gabriel Magalhães within the 52nd minute on the Arena Pantanal within the metropolis of Cuiabá, one in every of Brazil’s warmest presently of the yr.

The hosts squandered a number of alternatives from shut vary. Venezuela stored some strain and scored within the eighty fifth minute with a half-bicycle by Eduardo Bello, in one of the vital spectacular targets of South American World Cup qualifying thus far.

Venezuela’s protection managed to maintain Brazil at bay till the ultimate whistle.

“Now we have to hold our heads up high and think about Uruguay. We wanted to go at them, they wanted to defend and we couldn’t break them like we wanted,” Brazil captain Casemiro mentioned after the match.

Earlier on Thursday, Colombia and Uruguay drew 2-2. Veteran James Rodríguez opened the scoring for the hosts within the thirty seventh minute, and Matias Oliveira levelled shortly earlier than the break.

Mateus Uribe put the Colombians again in entrance within the 52nd minute. Uruguay equalized from the spot with Darwin Núñez moments earlier than the ultimate whistle after being fouled by goalkeeper Camilo Vargas, who was despatched off.

Ecuador beat Bolivia in La Paz 2-1 with a purpose within the last moments of the match.

Kendry Paéz scored for the guests shortly earlier than the break, and Rodrigo Ramallo equalized within the 83rd minute. Kevin Rodriguez gave Ecuador its first three factors in qualifying.

Chile beat Peru 2-0. Diego Valdéz scored the primary within the 74th minute and an personal purpose by Marcos López completed the scoring in harm time.

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