World Football - Messi sinks Brazil with late winner

Wed, 17 Nov 18:57:00 2010

Lionel Messi struck a minute into injury time to give Argentina a 1-0 victory over South American rivals Brazil in a friendly in Qatar.

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The match looked certain to finish goalless after a largely forgettable second period until the Barcelona forward accepted a pass from Napoli forward Ezequiel Lavezzi before speeding to the edge of the Brazil box.

He took one glance at goal before sending a delightful shot across Victor and into the corner of the net for a winner that never seemed likely.

Messi's 15th goal for his country in 53 appearances gives Argentina their first victory over Brazil in six attempts. Their last win against Brazil was in June, 2005.

After 90 meetings between these great foes, Argentina have now won 34 to Brazil's 33 with the rest drawn encounters.

It was Messi's first victory over Brazil in an Argentina shirt, but the match could easily have fell in favour of either side.

Watched by around 40,000 fans that included former France World Cup winner Zinedine Zidane and the Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson, both supporters of Qatar's bid to host the World Cup in 2022, Brazil almost grabbed the lead on 18 minutes.

The energetic Dani Alves won space inside the Argentina area from David Luiz's pass, but could only watch as the ball cracked back off the bar with goalkeeper Sergio Romero beaten.

Ronaldinho then opted for a backheel from five yards that was easily held by Romero on 21 minutes when a turn and shot would surely have brought his side greater joy.

Messi showed what he was capable of on 36 minutes when he decided to thump a shot at goal.

His volley swerved violently in the air but cracked off a post before spinning wide as the game began to rage from end to end.

Qatar are competing with the USA, Japan, South Korea and Australia to host the 2022 tournament.

FIFA have cast doubt on their bid by admitting that the high temperatures in the Gulf region during the summer months of June and July, the traditional months of choice for a World Cup finals, pose a health risk despite the idea of air-conditioned stadia.

There are no such problems for a match between these two countries in the relative cool of November.

The usual rash of changes for a friendly seemed to interrupt the pattern of the match in an uninspiring second period.

Ronaldinho threw over a free-kick that just evaded the head of Thiago Silva five minutes after the break with Alves hammering in a couple of venomous shots afterwards that cleared the bar.

It was all to prove in vain as Messi popped up in the dying seconds to prompt some joyous scenes of celebration among the large assortment of Argentina fans in the Doha crowd.

Desmond Kane / Eurosport

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