LIONEL MESSI converted a stoppage-time penalty as Argentina salvaged a 2-2 draw against South American rivals Uruguay in a friendly in Tel Aviv.
Three days after marking his return from a three-month international ban by scoring the winner against Brazil, Messi once again provided a big moment for his country.
His 63rd minute floated free-kick was headed home by Sergio Aguero, cancelling out Edinson Cavani’s 34th-minute opener for the home side.
And after Barcelona team-mate Luis Suarez had put Uruguay back in front from a set-piece, Messi’s persistence paid off after Martin Caceres had been harshly penalised for handball in the box.
Argentina had dominated the early exchanges and came close to breaking the deadlock in the 13th minute when Paulo Dybala had a shot blocked in a crowded box.
Uruguay lost former Liverpool defender Sebastian Coates to an apparent hamstring strain shortly afterwards – but they continued to grow into the game with Suarez making his presence felt.
And their patience was rewarded in the 34th minute when Suarez knocked on a superb cross by Arsenal’s Lucas Torreira, with Cavani having the easy job of poking the ball over the line.
Dybala had the ball in the net four minutes later, but it was ruled out for a clear handball.
Messi then ended the first period by forcing a save from Martin Campana, before setting up Rodrigo De Paul, who missed a golden chance.
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In a low-key start to the second half, Messi continued to pull his side’s strings, but there were few chances of note until just past the hour mark, when his free-kick found Aguero to equalise.
Five minutes later Suarez netted to put Uruguay back in front, and despite Argentina looking dangerous through Dybala and Aguero, Oscar Tabarez’s side looked set to hold firm.
When Aguero headed over in the 90th minute it appeared Argentina’s last chance had gone, but then the ball struck Caceres’ arm in the fourth minute of added time, giving Messi the chance to earn a draw.
This post written by Etienne Fermie originally appeared on Football news - transfers, fixtures, scores, pictures | The Sun. Read the full post here.