Lionel Messi marked his comeback from a short-lived international retirement with a goal that gave Argentina a 1-0 win over Uruguay on Thursday and lifted them to the top of the South American qualifying group for the 2018 World Cup finals in Russia.
Messi scored the goal three minutes before half-time while he was surrounded by defenders, his shot from outside the box took a deflection off Jose Maria Gimenez and wrong-footed goalkeeper Fernando Muslera.
Uruguay, who had spent virtually the entire first half defending, took the game to Argentina in the second but hardly troubled goalkeeper Sergio Romero. Their only chance came in the 34th minute when Suarez’s long-range free kick beat the Argentine wall only to be gathered safely by Romero.
Messi had dramatically announced the end of his international career in June following Argentina's Copa America Centenario final defeat to Chile.
Argentina’s victory is the first under new coach Bauza but it was a tough one.
The team played the second half with only 10 men after Juventus striker Paulo Dybala was sent off just before halftime after a second yellow card.
(WION with inputs from agencies)