Lionel Messi inspired Argentina to a much-needed 3-0 win over Colombia as they ended their four-match winless run in
World Cup qualifying.
Messi struck with a stunning free-kick in the 10th minute before setting up Lucas Pratto for a first-half header at
the Estadio San Juan del Bicentenario on Tuesday (early Wednesday).
The five-time Ballon d’Or winner was a constant threat for Edgardo Bauza’s team, who desperately needed their win
following a difficult recent period, and set up Angel Di Maria for a tap in for the sealer late on.
Radamel Falcao had a couple of first-half chances for Colombia, but they were otherwise outplayed.
The result meant Argentina moved above Colombia in CONMEBOL qualifying, a huge boost following losses to Paraguay
Bauza made three changes to his team comprehensively beaten by Brazil, Pablo Zabaleta, Enzo Perez and Gonzalo
Higuain making way for Gabriel Mercado, Ever Banega and Pratto.
Colombia made numerous changes to the team that held Chile last time out, including welcoming back Juan Cuadrado and
It was the hosts who started the better, and Nicolas Otamendi headed a Messi free-kick over the bar in the sixth
Falcao had a tough chance just two minutes later before Messi opened the scoring in sublime fashion.
Alexis Sanchez controversially started for Chile against Uruguay, against Arsene Wenger’s wishes, and delivered in
fine style for his country in their 2018 World Cup qualifier early Wednesday morning.
The Arsenal star scored his 35th goal for his country after turning Vecino on the edge of the box and blasting his
shot beyond Muslera in goal.
That took Chile to 2-1 up before he added a second for 3-1 after running onto a through ball.
With his work done, and much to the relief of Arsenal fans, Chile boss Juan Antonio Pizzi substituted his ace with
six minutes on the clock to a standing ovation.
The in-form forward missed his national team’s clash with Colombia due to a minor muscle injury and Arsene Wenger
said it would be ‘suicidal’ if he took part on Tuesday night.
Manchester City-bound forward Gabriel Jesus scored one and set up another as Brazil made it six wins in a row with a
2-0 victory over Peru.
Not since qualifying for the 1970 World Cup have Brazil won six South American qualifiers in a row, but Ttie’s side
put in another impressive display in Lima to keep a fourth clean sheet in as many games.
Having thrashed rivals Argentina 3-0 last week the Samba Boys might have expected to make light work of Peru, but
they were frustrated for the opening 45 minutes.
Jesus, who has agreed a move to the Etihad Stadium in January, finally broke the deadlock in the second half and
then set up Renato Augusto late on.
The five-time World Cup winners are now four points clear in the South American group, while defeat leaves Peru
eighth and unlikely to reach Russia 2018.
Fernandinho headed the best chance of the first half over the bar, but Brazil went ahead 13 minutes after the
restart when Jesus finished well after Peru failed to clear the danger.
Christian Ramos headed wide when presented with the chance of an equaliser while at the other end Neymar struck the
However, the visitors made the points safe 11 minutes from time when 19-year-old Jesus set up Renato Augusto, who
dispatched a low effort into the net.