In Buenos Aires, gritty Uruguay got a statement win by beating Lionel Messi’s world champions Argentina 2-0 at their iconic Bombonera stadium thanks to goals from Ronald Araújo and Darwin Núñez in each half.
Uruguay were the better side from start to finish, and with the win they climbed to second in the World Cup qualifying standings on 10 points, two behind leaders Argentina, who dropped their first points in five games in the South American qualifiers and lost their first match since the 2022 World Cup.
“They are an intense team and it was difficult for us to play our game,” Messi said after the match. “They have physical and fast players in the midfield. We never feel comfortable and we didn’t find a way to possess the ball for a long period of time. So the game was played on a fast pace and we fall for that style, which isn’t the best for us.”
It is the first time Uruguay, who are playing under their new head coach, Argentine Marcelo Bielsa, have beaten Argentina in an away World Cup qualifying match.
“You can see Bielsa’s hand on the way Uruguay is playing,” Messi said. “In all the national teams or clubs, including Argentina, his style was very recognizable. And he has a good generation of players [in Uruguay].”
Argentina star Messi saw his streak of nine straight starts for Argentina with a goal snapped — the longest of his national team career — and it was the first time he failed to score in a game he started since the World Cup group stage against Poland on Nov. 30, 2022.
“The loss is a good test for us. This could happen so now we have to get up and try to play our best in Brazil next week,” Messi added.
Colombia are third on nine points, one ahead Venezuela, who were held to a goalless draw at home by sixth-placed Ecuador, who are one point behind Brazil, who are fifth on seven points.
Information from Reuters was used in this report.