Lionel Messi scores with fluke goal from 35 metres as Argentina beat Uruguay 3-0 in World Cup qualifier

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 (REUTERS)
(REUTERS)

Lionel Messi became the first South American to reach 80 goals for his country on Sunday night – and it was certainly one of the strangest he had scored.

The fluke from 35 metres set Argentina on their way to a 3-0 win over Uruguay in a World Cup qualifier in Buenos Aires.

Uruguay came into the match on the back of an unbeaten eight-game run and made the early running with Luis Suarez hitting the post and forcing goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez into making two great saves.

But Messi then changed the game eight minutes before the break, although in a way no one would have anticipated.

The Paris Saint-Germain forward floated a 35-metre pass into the area but it was missed by both advancing striker Nicolas Gonzalez and goalkeeper Fernando Muslera and somehow sneaked into the net.

 (AFP via Getty Images)
(AFP via Getty Images)

Further goals came from Rodrigo De Paul and Lautaro Martinez, and it could have been an even bigger win.

Tottenham’s Giovani Lo Celso missed a golden chance to score when he rounded the goalkeeper but delayed before striking a shot that hit the underside of the bar and the goal line before rolling to safety.

"We played a great game," said Messi, whose 80 goals have come in 155 internationals. "Everything worked out perfectly.

"Uruguay wait for you and they generate danger. Once we got the first goal we started to find space and the goals appeared.”

The win, combined with Brazil’s 0-0 draw at Colombia earlier in the day, narrows the gap between leaders Brazil and second-placed Argentina to six points at the top of the 10-team South American qualifying group.

Uruguay ended the day in fourth, and the top four teams qualify automatically for Qatar with the fifth-placed side going into an inter-regional playoff.

Additional reporting by Reuters

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