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Leo Messi, seen here with Chile's Eugenio Mena, played a part in the winning goal / fifa.com

Argentina, with Leo Messi in the starting line-up but Javier Mascherano suspended, won 2-1 away to Claudio Bravo’s Chile in Thursday’s World Cup 2018 qualifier. After winning just one of their first four matches, the three points are a huge boost for the 2014 finalists, and moves them up to fourth in the South American qualifying group. Meanwhile Copa American champions Chile have dropped to sixth, with Brazil and Uruguay in action on Friday.

Felipe Gutierrez opened the scoring for Chile in the 11th minute, but Angel Di Maria equalised with a beautiful curled shot just eight minutes later. Shortly after, Gabriel Mercado put Argentina ahead, finishing off a move orchestrated brilliantly by Messi.

Argentina host Bolivia and Chile travel to Venezuela in the next round of qualifiers, to be played on March 29.

Spain and Italy draw

In European friendlies, Gerard Piqué and Jordi Alba were both involved in a 1-1 draw with Italy. Piqué started the game and was yellow carded after 73 minutes, while Alba came on for Juanfran for the last twelve minutes.

Marc Bartra and Sergi Roberto both watched the game from the bench, meaning that the latter will now have to wait until Sunday’s friendly with Romania for another chance to make his full international debut.

Udine scored the Italian goal after 66 minutes, while Athletic Bilbao’s Aduriz got Spain’s equaliser just three minutes after.

Munir and Arda Turan also in action

Barça striker Munir led the Spain U21 attack in Thursday’s European Championship qualifier at home to Croatia, but wasn’t able to avoid disappointing 3-0 defeat in Burgos. The result means that Croatia take over from Spain at the top of Group 6.

And Arda Turan was also in action, playing for Turkey in a 2-1 friendly defeat of Sweden. The Barça midfielder started the game, and was replaced in the 90th minute by Olcay Sahan.


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