Messi and Alves on target for Argentina and Brazil in Russia 2018 qualifiers

Leo Messi scored the second of Argentina's goals against Bolivia /
Leo scores 50th goal for his country, while injury time strike from Alves steals a late point for Brazil in Paraguay and Luis Suárez’s Uruguay go top in South American after beating Peru

Leo Messi was outstanding in Argentina’s 2-0 win in Tuesday night’s World Cup 2018 qualifier at home to Bolivia. He was the mastermind of a fine performance from Tata Martino’s team, who move up to third place in the South American qualifying zone thanks to the three points. With Javier Mascherano also in the side after returning from suspension, Gabriel Mercado opened the scoring after 20 minutes and Messi made it two from the penalty spot just ten minutes later, his 50th goal for his country.

It was also a fine night for Luis Suarez’s Uruguay, who combined with Ecuador’s defeat in Colombia have moved to the top of the Conmebol table after beating Peru 1-0. Edinson Cavani, with whom the Barça striker is developing a fine understanding, converted the only game of the game after 53 minutes.  

It was a less successful evening for Brazil, who were held 2-2 in Paraguay. But until the 49th minute things were looking even worse. Trailing 2-0, and with Neymar Jr suspended, Ricardo Oliveira finally got the Canarinha off the mark. And two minutes into injury time, Barça’s Dani Alves came to the rescue with a left footed strike to steak a point in Asunción. All the same, Brazil are now 6th and out of the places that offer passage to Russia in 2018.

Euro friendlies

In Europe, Arda Turan captained Turkey in a comeback to win 2-1 in Austria, and it was he who scored the winner in the 57th minute, making the most of a goalkeeping error to convert a fine lob.

Ter Stegen was used ahead of Neuer in the German goal for their 4-1 friendly win over Italy, the Barça stopper unbeaten until the 83rd minute when El Shaarawy found the net.

Thomas Vermaelen was also in action, playing all 90 minutes of Belgium’s 2-1 friendly loss in Portugal, while Jeremy Mathieu’s excellent club form was rewarded by a return to international duty, playing all of the first half of France’s 4-2 win at home to Russia, but taking a knock and being replaced by Evra after the interval.