WCQs: Messi scores on Argentina return, Man City new boy inspires Brazil

Date published: Friday 2nd September 2016 8:09

Lionel Messi scored the winner on his return to international duty with Argentina, while Man City’s new signing Gabriel Jesus starred in Brazil’s win. 

Argentina 1 Uruguay 0

Lionel Messi marked his return to the international stage with the winning goal as Argentina defeated Uruguay 1-0 in Thursday’s World Cup qualifier in Mendoza.

The Barcelona star, who hung up his international boots in June only to reverse his decision last month, netted three minutes before half-time to settle the contest and give coach Edgardo Bauza a winning start to his Argentina reign.

Argentina retained their slender advantage despite playing the entire second period a man down following the dismissal of Juventus forward Paulo Dybala on the stroke of half-time.

Messi controlled the ball and made room for a shot on 42 minutes which found the back of the net via a deflection off Uruguay defender Jose Gimenez.

It was his 56th goal for his country, and there was little Uruguay goalkeeper Fernando Muslera could have done about it.

The home team’s momentum was stalled shortly after by the dismissal of Dybala, who was shown a second yellow card for a soft foul on Mathias Corujo.

But Uruguay failed to capitalise on their numerical superiority, with striker Luis Suarez starved of decent service and Argentina goalkeeper Sergio Romero not unduly troubled.

The win moved Argentina to the top of the CONMEBOL qualifying standings – a point ahead of Uruguay, Colombia and Ecuador – after seven games.

Gabriel Jesus Brazil

Ecudaor 0 Brazil 3

Gabriel Jesus won a penalty and notched a late brace on his full international debut as new Brazil coach Tite began his reign with a 3-0 World Cup qualifying win over 10-man Ecuador in Quito.

Barcelona forward Neymar opened the scoring through a 72nd-minute penalty, and Ecuador defender Juan Carlos Paredes was sent off for two bookable offences four minutes later to further assist the Selecao’s cause.

Nineteen-year-old Jesus, who will join Manchester City from Palmeiras in January, made the result safe on 87 minutes and then added another for good measure in stoppage time.

Former Tottenham midfielder Paulinho – now with Guangzhou Evergrande – was handed a starting berth after being recalled from the international wilderness by his former Corinthians boss, but could not help inspire his side in the first half.

The visitors could not muster a shot on target in an uninspiring first 45 minutes at the Estadio Olimpico Atahualpa.

The introduction of Liverpool’s Philippe Coutinho just after the hour mark in place of Chelsea’s Willian provided the necessary attacking impetus, however, and the increased tempo soon led to the opener.

Jesus robbed Ecuador defender Mina of possession and was sent tumbling by goalkeeper Alexander Dominguez, allowing Neymar to coolly put Brazil ahead from the spot.

Watford full-back Paredes then saw red for a needless challenge on Renato Augusto, having already been booked, and it did not take long for Brazil to capitalise on their numerical advantage.

Jesus first flicked home a Marcelo cross three minutes from time and then placed a fine curling shot into the corner from 18 yards to seal a convincing away victory which moved Tite’s side provisionally up to fourth in the CONMEBOL qualifying standings.

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