Messi scores penalty but Argentina held

·2-min read

Lionel Messi scored a first-half penalty for hosts Argentina before Chile's Alexis Sanchez equalised as their World Cup qualifier ended 1-1.

Messi converted from the spot midway through the first half after Guillermo Maripan brought down Lautaro Martinez in the box.

Chile striker Sanchez levelled in the 37th minute, finishing off a cut back from Gary Medel.

Chile keeper Claudio Bravo made a world-class save to keep the scores level just before half-time, tipping a Messi free kick around the post.

The match in Santiago del Estero was Argentina's first competitive outing since November and both sides looked rusty.

Argentina pushed forward as the game went on but Chile's rearguard was solid, even without their talismanic holding midfielder Arturo Vidal, who missed out after contracting COVID-19.

Messi almost snatched all three points in the last five minutes but could not find a way past Bravo.

The draw means Argentina are unbeaten at home against Chile in 35 matches, and have gone 12 games without defeat since losing to Brazil in the 2019 Copa America semi-finals.

Argentina are second in the 10-team South America qualifying group for Qatar 2022 with 11 points from five games, a point behind Brazil, who play Ecuador on Friday.

Chile are sixth, with five points from five games.

The top four teams qualify automatically for Qatar while the fifth-placed side goes into an intercontinental play-off.

Earlier in the day, Bolivia beat Venezuela 3-1 at home and Uruguay and Paraguay drew 0-0 in Montevideo.

Uruguay had the better of the chances but failed to convert.

Uruguay's Jonathan Rodriguez had a goal controversially chalked off for offside in the first half and Luis Suarez put a header over the bar from close in.

Suarez battled valiantly and substitute Facundo Torres caused problems as Uruguay dominated as the game went on but they couldn't get the all-important goal on a pitch that cut up quickly and made silky play difficult.