MENDOZA, Sporting Alert – Lionel Messi scored the only goal to lift 10-man Argentina to a 1-0 victory over Uruguay in Thursday night’s CONMEBOL World Cup qualifying game at Estadio Malvinas Argentinas.
Messi, who retired from international duties last summer after the Copa America, returned to the national setup on Thursday night to net the winner.
The Barcelona forward picked up a weak headed clearance from Uruguay captain Diego Godín, turned skillfully on his left foot before firing home a shot that deflected off a defender and beat goalkeeper Fernando Muslera in the 43rd minute.
Shortly after the goal, Argentina was reduced to 10 players when Paulo Dybala was sent off for a second yellow card following a bad foul.
Despite being a man short, the home side managed to hold on for the victory and collect the three points, which pushed them to the top of qualifying in CONMEBOL standings with 14 points.
Uruguay slipped to second with 13 pts.
Meanwhile, the 29-year-old Messi insisted that his didn’t ‘deceive anybody’ after making the decision to return from his brief retirement from international football.
“I am very grateful [to return to the national team],” he told Argentine TV. “But I did not deceive anybody when I retired, I felt that.”
After failing to lead his team to victory in three successive finals, including two in the Copa America against Chile, Messi felt like he needed a break.
“We were very disappointed with what had happened,” he added, “but after that I thought better.
“I had a conversation with the Paton [Bauza] and the people as well accompanied me through it.”
Messi also confirmed that he is a doubt for Argentina’s next World Cup 2018 qualifier against Venezuela on Wednesday due to a groin injury.
“I don’t know if I will play against Venezuela,” he revealed. “I have a lot of pain in my groin but I wanted to be here after the disturbance I caused.”