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Messi leads fightback

sports Updated: Nov 17, 2011 01:58 IST

Reuters
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Argentina-s-Lionel-Messi-right-is-challenged-by-Colombia-s-Gustavo-Bolivar-during-their-World-Cup-qualifier--AFP-Photo

Lionel Messi and Alexis Sanchez, club mates at Barcelona, sparkled as Argentina and Chile put behind them a weekend to forget with victories in the South American 2014 World Cup qualifiers on Tuesday. Messi led the fightback for a 2-1 away win over Colombia as Argentina fielded a world class trident in attack by bringing on Sergio Aguero to join Messi and Gonzalo Higuain for the second half.

The victory lifted Argentina into second place in the standings on seven points, the same number as leaders Uruguay, who have a game in hand, but behind on goal difference.

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Venezuela are third, also on seven points, after a 1-0 home win over Bolivia with Ecuador and Chile, who beat Paraguay 2-0 at home, on six. Colombia and Paraguay have four, Peru three and Bolivia one.

Colombia, hosts to Argentina on a heavy Metropolitano pitch in hot and humid Barranquilla on the Caribbean coast, had the better of the first half and led 1-0 at the interval after Darlon Pabon scored with a free kick that took a deflection off Javier Mascherano.

Sabella's team went for the win in the second half with Aguero giving his attack the depth it had lacked for 45 minutes. With Colombia's defence stretched, Messi equalised when goalkeeper David Ospina could not hold Jose Sosa's low cross and the Argentina captain pounced to slot home just past the hour for his second goal of the 2014 qualifiers.

With six minutes to go, Messi fed Higuain in the box, Ospina could only parry the striker's shot and Aguero, in hot scoring form for Manchester City, steered the rebound inside the near bottom corner.

"There's no doubt Messi makes a difference," the Argentina coach said.