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Messi eases injury worries as Argentina stay hungry

Published : 14 Oct 2023, 01:43

  DF News Desk
Argentina's Lionel Messi (R) controls the ball past Paraguay's Alvaro Campuzano during the 2026 FIFA World Cup South American qualification football match between Argentina and Paraguay in Buenos Aires, Argentina, on Oct. 12, 2023. Photo: Xinhua by Martin Zabala.

Lionel Messi allayed concerns about his fitness after an impressive second-half cameo in Argentina's 1-0 home win over Paraguay in their World Cup qualifier on Thursday, reported Xinhua.

Messi, who has struggled to overcome a muscle problem in recent weeks, made an immediate impact after replacing Julian Alvarez in the 53rd minute at Estadio Monumental.

The 36-year-old Inter Miami forward instantly gave the Albiceleste more fluency in attack and he was twice denied by the woodwork in the last 20 minutes.

"I felt good. I was able to add minutes which is important after such a long time off," said Messi, who missed four games for Inter Miami before returning to play 35 minutes in a 1-0 loss to Cincinnati last Saturday.

"I was unable to play for a long time so it was difficult. But I will take a lot of positives out of tonight. I want to train as much as possible to continue feeling this way."

Thursday's result means Argentina now have three wins from as many games this qualifying campaign.

The reigning world champions will now turn their focus to their next qualifier against Peru in Lima on Tuesday.

"It was a very difficult qualifier," the former Barcelona and Paris Saint-German star said. "Paraguay are always tough because they find spaces and move the ball quickly.

"Even so, we had a lot of chances and, fortunately, the goal came in the end. We'll leave here with the three points and that's the most important thing."