Messi’s late show earns Ar­gentina draw against Uruguay

The National - News - - SPORT FOOTBALL -

Lionel Messi scored an in­jury time penalty as Ar­gentina sal­vaged a 2-2 draw against their South Amer­i­can ri­vals Uruguay in a friendly in Tel Aviv.

Three days af­ter mark­ing his re­turn from a three-month in­ter­na­tional ban by scor­ing the win­ner against Brazil, Messi once again un­der­scored his value to his coun­try.

He floated a pre­cise 63rd-minute free-kick from which Ser­gio Aguero headed home to can­cel out Edi­son Ca­vani’s 34th-minute opener for the home side.

And af­ter Luis Suarez put Uruguay back in front from a set-piece, Messi’s per­sis­tence paid off af­ter Martin Cac­eres had been harshly pe­nalised for hand­ball in the box.

Ar­gentina had dom­i­nated the early ex­changes and came close to break­ing the dead­lock in the 13th minute when Paulo Dy­bala had a shot blocked in a crowded box.

Uruguay lost de­fender Se­bas­tian Coates to an ap­par­ent ham­string strain shortly af­ter­wards but they con­tin­ued to grow into the game with Suarez mak­ing his pres­ence felt.

The Uruguayans’ pa­tience was re­warded in the 34th minute when Suarez knocked on a su­perb cross by Lu­cas Tor­reira and Ca­vani had the easy job of pok­ing the ball over the line.

Dy­bala had the ball in the net four min­utes later but it was ruled out for a clear hand­ball, and Messi ended the first pe­riod by forc­ing a save from Martin Cam­pana be­fore set­ting up

Ro­drigo de Paul who missed a golden chance.

In a low-key start to the sec­ond half, Messi con­tin­ued to pull strings for his side but there were few chances of note un­til past the hour mark, when his free-kick found Aguero.

Five min­utes later Suarez net­ted to put Uruguay back in front and, de­spite Ar­gentina’s at­tacks through Dy­bala and Aguero, Os­car Tabarez’s side looked set to hold firm.

When Aguero headed over in the 90th minute it ap­peared Ar­gentina’s last chance had gone, but when the ball struck Cac­eres’ arm in the fourth minute of added time, Messi took the chance to earn a draw.

Lionel Messi, left, and Ser­gio Aguero cel­e­brate the equaliser

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