Angel Di Maria’s goal on Friday put Argentina on the brink of qualifying for the World Cup in Qatar next year, as Lionel Messi was on the bench to beat Uruguay 1-0.
Coach Lionel Scaloni urged Messi to play the last quarter of an hour when he returned with knee and hamstring problems that had left him missing the last two Paris Saint-Germain games.
Di Maria’s excellent early finish at the Campeon del Siglo stadium in Montevideo was the difference between the teams in the Uruguay-dominated match.
The result means that Argentina, which has not lost in 26 games, will advance to the World Cup final if it beats Brazil on Tuesday and none of Colombia, Chile or Uruguay wins.
“This team has tremendous courage and if you don’t play well, you still need to win,” Argentina goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez said.
“Today’s victory was a huge step. We deserve it because we work so hard. “
The defeat left Uruguay at the World Cup playoff point, losing to Colombia and Chile in the last two automatic goal difference qualifying positions.
Result: Uruguay 0 lost to Argentina 1 (Di Maria 7)…