mac recovery mode

Messi magic leaves Argentina in control in WC qualifiers

Lionel Messi scored once and set up two goals as Argentina beat Venezuela 3-0 to remain in control of the South American qualifying race for the 2014 World Cup Buenos Aires on Friday.



The Argentinian skipper was the architect of two Gonzalo Higuain strikes which came either side of an emphatic Messi penalty on the stroke of half-time at the Monumental Stadium.



The Barcelona superstar was Argentina’s best player throughout, twice forcing Daniel Hernandez into scrambled saves early on before producing the pass which enabled Higuain to break the deadlock on 29 minutes.



Messi then harried Venezuela defender Gabriel Cichero into conceding a penalty, which the diminutive play-maker lashed into the roof of the net for 2-0 in first half stoppage time.



A trademark jinking run and through-ball for Higuain gave Argentina their third in the 59th minute as Venezuela kissed goodbye to any chance of repeating their shock 1-0 win over the Argentinians in 2011.



The victory leaves Alejandro Sabella’s side four points clear of second-placed Colombia at the top of the standings with 23 points after 10 matches.



With just six games remaining, only an unthinkable collapse will prevent the “Albicelestes” from taking their place at next year’s finals in Brazil, with a trip to La Paz to face Bolivia on Tuesday their next game.



In other games on Friday, Colombia remained on course to end their 16-year World Cup exile after sweeping aside Bolivia 5-0 in Barranquilla.



Goals from Macnelly Torres, Carlos Valdez, Teofilo Gutierrez, Radamel Falcao and Pablo Armero secured an easy win as Colombia leapfrogged Ecuador into second place in the standings.



Colombia – who are revelling under the guidance of former Argentina coach Jose Pekerman – now look perfectly poised to reach their first World Cup since 1998.



Barranquilla’s Metropolitano Stadium had rocked before kick-off as the home crowd paid an emotional tribute to former national keeper Miguel Calero, who died in December aged 41 after suffering a blood clot.



Colombia took the lead on 20 minutes, when Torres tucked away a cross from Juan Cuadrado, fortunate not to be ruled offside.



Colombia doubled their lead shortly after half-time when Bolivia failed to clear a knock-down from Abel Aguilar, which Valdez prodded home.



Gutierrez then made the game safe on 62 minutes, latching onto a through ball from Torres before steering past Bolivia’s substitute keeper Sergio Galarza for 3-0. Falcao and Armero completed the rate late on.



Elsewhere, Uruguay’s hopes of a vital victory against bottom side Paraguay were dashed after they conceded a late equaliser in a bruising game which finished 1-1 in Montevideo.



Liverpool striker Luis Suarez looked to have settled a niggly encounter when he volleyed home a Nicolas Lodeiro cross on 82 minutes.



But Paraguay, who had rarely threatened during a stop-start game scarred by some rugged tackling, plucked an equaliser against the run of play four minutes later when substitute Edgar Benitez slotted home.



The draw saw Uruguay inch into the automatic qualifying spots, leapfrogging Venezuela in fourth, but coach Oscar Tabarez will be left ruing his team’s failure to take all three points.



The first four finishers in South America’s round-robin tournament will qualify automatically for Brazil, with the fifth-placed side facing a play-off against the fifth-placed side from Asia.

Read more :
  • Police probe David Nalbandian for alleged assault
    David Nalbandian is under investigation for alleged assault by police after a complaint was lodged to the authorities following the Argentina professional's outburst at the Queen's final. ...
  • No sympathy for Armstrong on social media
    LONDON - Lance Armstrong's televised doping confession has done nothing to restore his shattered reputation, a study of responses posted to the Twitter social media site showed. "What was ...
  • Robin Soderling behind schedule in comeback
    Robin Soderling has revealed that he is behind schedule in his comeback from glandular fever. The Swede, who has not played since July due to the illness, had hoped to be back this month, ...
  • IM Garcia seizes share of lead in Asian Youth Chess
    International Master (IM) Jan Emmanuel Garcia outclassed untitled Javanbakht Nima of Iran to gain a piece of the lead after round seven in the boys’ 18-under of the 2013 Asian Youth Chess C...
  • 49ers in Super Bowl after comeback against Atlanta
    ATLANTA - The San Francisco 49ers battled back from a 17-0 deficit to defeat the Atlanta Falcons 28-24 on Sunday and book their first trip to the Super Bowl in 18 years where they will face...
  • Sharapova, Serena set up bitter Wimbledon campaign
    LONDON: Maria Sharapova tore into Wimbledon rival Serena Williams on the eve of the Championships, setting the tone for a tournament likely to be dominated by their unseemly public row. Th...
  • PH to see action in Rugby World Cup 7
    The Volcanoes, under American coach Al Caravelli, are set to compete in the 2013 Rugby World Cup Seven slated on June 28 to 30. Caravelli told reporters during a press conference in Pasay ...
  • Playoff loss keeps Howell out of Masters
    LA QUINTA, California - Charles Howell III had bitter-sweet feelings after failing to secure a place at this year's U.S. Masters when he lost out to fellow American Brian Gay in a three-way...