- Lionel Messi played in the second half as Argentina secured a narrow victory
- The Inter Miami striker will soon complete his first season in the MLS
- Listen to the latest episode of the Mail Sport podcast.It’s starting!‘
Lionel Messi came off the bench for Argentina on Thursday as La Albiceleste beat Paraguay 1-0 in a World Cup qualifier.
Messi, whose MLS season ends next weekend with Inter Miami’s exit from the playoffs, came on in the 53rd minute for Julian Alvarez.
Nicolas Otamendi scored the only goal for the favorites in the third minute.
The win puts Argentina at the top of South American qualifying with three wins in as many games.
They will travel to Lima on Tuesday for another qualifying match against Peru.
Lionel Messi came off the bench to help Argentina win against Paraguay on Thursday night
Messi and Paraguay’s Alvaro Campuzano duel during a World Cup qualifier on Thursday evening
The Inter Miami star was initially on the bench, but came on for Julian Alvarez in the 53rd minute
Messi recently struggled with a muscle injury that forced him to miss four games for Miami.
He returned to the lineup against FC Cincinnati last weekend, but only played 36 minutes off the bench as his team lost.
The 36-year-old was linked with a loan move to Saudi Arabia or Barcelona after Miami was eliminated from the playoffs – as the MLS regular season was not due to resume until February, having ended on October 21.
However, Fabrizio Romano He poured cold water on those claims on Wednesday, saying Messi had his “full focus” on Miami and Argentina as he prepares for a relatively busy November.
After the MLS season ends, Messi is expected to play in the World Cup qualifiers against Uruguay and Brazil.
And Miami will also reportedly travel to China and Japan for two postseason friendlies.