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PHOTOS, WC qualifiers: Messi scores 50th Argentina goal; Alves rescues Brazil

Last updated on: March 30, 2016 12:21 IST

Photos from the 2018 World Cup qualifiers played on Tuesday

Argentina's Lionel Messi celebrates after scoring against Bolivia during their World Cup 2018 qualifier at the Mario Alberto Kempes Stadium, in Cordoba, Argentina, on Tuesday

IMAGE: Argentina's Lionel Messi celebrates after scoring against Bolivia during their World Cup 2018 qualifier at the Mario Alberto Kempes Stadium, in Cordoba, Argentina, on Tuesday. Photograph: Enrique Marcarian/Reuters

Lionel Messi scored his 50th international goal to help Argentina beat Bolivia 2-0 in a 2018 World Cup qualifier on Tuesday.

The win put Argentina third in the South American group with 11 points from six matches, two points behind joint leaders Ecuador and Uruguay.

Ecuador suffered their first loss in the group, going down 3-1 in Colombia, while Uruguay scored a 1-0 home win over Peru.

Argentina defender Gabriel Mercado, who scored the winner in Thursday’s 2-1 away victory over Chile, opened the scoring in the 21st minute against Bolivia.

Argentina were awarded a penalty in the 29th minute after Ronald Eguino fouled midfielder Ever Banega, and Messi made no mistake from the spot to net his 50th goal for Argentina, putting him within six of Gabriel Batistuta’s record.

“This (campaign) is very long and what’s important is that we won and remain on course,” Messi told TyC Sports.

“I’m happy with goal number 50 but more because we won and this helps to keep growing.”

 

Argentina's Lionel Messi outruns a Bolivia player

IMAGE: Argentina's Lionel Messi outruns a Bolivia player. Photograph: Enrique Marcarian/Reuters

Argentina could have gone ahead after 10 seconds with a quick attack down the left from the opening kickoff but Angel Di Maria’s shot was blocked by goalkeeper Carlos Lampe and Banega hit the bar with the rebound.

Di Maria limped off after half an hour and was replaced by Angel Correa.

Argentina squandered several other chances to score against a side they put 12 goals past in two friendlies last year. They are a point ahead of Colombia and Chile, who came from behind to beat Venezuela 4-1.

In the day's other games, Uruguay moved top on 13 points after defeating Peru 1-0 at home. Ecuador lost their first game in the competition, going down 3-1 in Colombia, to fall behind Uruguay on goal difference.

Brazil and Paraguay have nine points after their 2-2 draw in Asuncion.

The top four teams in the 10-nation group qualify for the 2018 World Cup finals, while the fifth placed side goes into an intercontinental playoff.

Late goal rescues Brazil in 2-2 thriller in Paraguay

Action from the match between Brazil and Paraguay

IMAGE: Action from the match between Brazil and Paraguay. Photograph: FIFA World Cup/Twitter

Dani Alves scored in injury time as Brazil fought back from two goals down to earn a 2-2 draw with Paraguay in a World Cup qualifier in Asuncion on Tuesday.

Alves showed a nice piece of close control inside the box before curling the ball into the corner two minutes into stoppage time to rescue the visitors after Paraguay had tried to sit back and defend a 2-1 lead from early in the second half.

The draw saw Brazil fall to sixth place on nine points in the 10-team South American qualifying group, four behind leaders Uruguay and Ecuador.

Paraguay, also on nine points, went ahead after 39 minutes when Dario Lezcano got on the end of a cross from Edgar Benitez and while he hit the ball into the ground, it bounced up to deceive goalkeeper Alisson and defenders on the line.

Brazil coach Dunga introduced Hulk in place of midfielder Fernandinho after the break in a bid to get back on level terms but Paraguay doubled their lead three minutes into the second hand.

Benitez collected a pass on the edge of the box and calmly slotted the ball past Alisson, while Alves stopped to appeal for offside.

Brazil's Gil had a goal disallowed for climbing after 62 minutes but they eventually got the goal their second half dominance deserved with 12 minutes remaining.

Paraguay goalkeeper Justo Villar could not hold Hulk's 25-yard drive and Ricardo Oliveira fired the rebound home.

US grab key win over Guatemala

USA's Geoff Cameron celebrates his goal with teammates Graham Zusi #19 and Clint Dempsey #8 during their FIFA 2018 World Cup qualifier against Guatemala at MAPFRE Stadium in Columbus, Ohio, on Tuesday

IMAGE: USA's Geoff Cameron celebrates his goal with teammates Graham Zusi #19 and Clint Dempsey #8 during their FIFA 2018 World Cup qualifier against Guatemala at MAPFRE Stadium in Columbus, Ohio, on Tuesday. Photograph: Jamie Sabau/Getty Images

The United States earned a crucial 4-0 win over Guatemala on Tuesday that saved their 2018 World Cup qualifying campaign and took some pressure off coach Jurgen Klinsmann.

After a dreadful 2-0 defeat to the same opponents on Friday, the United States would have been on the verge of elimination from qualifying with another defeat on Tuesday.

Reflecting the growing unease among fans, a plane flew over the stadium in Columbus, Ohio prior to the match with a banner reading: “#FIREKLINSMANN HE'S A TINY LITTLE BIT BEHIND.”

Clint Dempsey and Geoff Cameron scored first-half goals to settle United States' nerves, before Graham Zusi and Jozy Altidore made it 4-0 after the break.

The win moved the United States onto seven points from four games, three behind leaders Trinidad and Tobago. Guatemala are third on six points with St Vincent propping up the group with four straight defeats.

The two remaining group games will be played in September.

Mexico beat Canada 2-0 to advance in qualifiers

Mexico secured their spot in the final round of CONCACAF's World Cup qualifiers on Tuesday with an easy 2-0 win over Canada at the Aztec Stadium in Mexico City.

PSV Eindhoven's Andres Guardado got Mexico's opener from the penalty spot after 17 minutes before Jesus Corona added a second just before halftime.

The result gives Mexico a maximum 12 points with two games remaining in the penultimate stage of the North and Central America and the Caribbean qualifying competition.

Six teams advance to the final stage that begins in November.

Three teams qualify automatically from the CONCACAF region for the 2018 World Cup finals in Russia with the fourth-placed side facing an inter-continental play off.

Costa Rica easily beat Jamaica to boost qualifying bid

Two goals in a commanding first half gave Costa Rica a convincing 3-0 win over Jamaica on Tuesday which virtually guaranteed their place in the final round of qualifiers for the 2018 World Cup in Russia.

Celso Borges grabbed the opener for the home side with a seventh minute header and Sporting Lisbon forward Bryan Ruiz doubled the lead eight minutes before halftime when he hammered home a rebound after the Jamaican keeper could not hold a powerful drive from Marcos Urena.

Substitute Johan Venegas Ulloa grabbed a third with 12 minutes remaining.

The result means Costa Rica lead Group B of the North and Central America and the Caribbean region qualifiers with 10 points.

They now require just one point from their remaining two fixtures to qualify for the final six-team group that begins in November.

Australia's Mathew Leckie contests for the ball with Jordan's Yaseen Al-Bakhit and Ehsan Haddad during the 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifier at Allianz Stadium in Sydney on Tuesday

IMAGE: Australia's Mathew Leckie contests for the ball with Jordan's Yaseen Al-Bakhit and Ehsan Haddad during the 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifier at Allianz Stadium in Sydney on Tuesday. Photograph: Mark Kolbe/Getty Images
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