Qualifying Stage
  • Lionel Messi (16' PEN)

Messi penalty jumps Argentina to third in CONMEBOL standings

Messi celeb vs Chile 170323 Eitan Abramovich/AFP/Getty Images

Lionel Messi scored the only goal as Argentina kept alive their hopes of World Cup qualification with a 1-0 win over Chile in Buenos Aires.

Messi's 16th-minute penalty at the Estadio Monumental Antonio Vespucio Liberti saw Edgardo Bauza's men get their qualification campaign back on track as they climbed into third place in the CONMEBOL standings.

The defeat saw Chile drop to sixth, but just a point adrift of Colombia who hold the final automatic qualifying berth in fourth.

Jose Fuenzalida thought he had given Chile a seventh-minute lead when he bundled the ball home from close range after Charles Aranguiz's header from Alexis Sanchez's cross was parried by Sergio Romero but the goal was ruled out for offside.

Angel Di Maria brought a good save out of Claudio Bravo before Argentina were awarded a penalty when Fuenzalida brought down Di Maria as the Paris St Germain winger attempted to latch onto a long ball from Javier Mascherano.

And Messi made no mistake from the spot, calming slotting his 58th international goal beyond Bravo.

Argentina should have doubled their advantage moments before the interval but Nicolas Otamendi blazed over from close range after Messi's free-kick had picked him out.

A Di Maria cut back fell to Messi in the 61st minute but the Barcelona midfielder put his effort high and wide.

Sanchez almost made Argentina pay for their profligacy four minutes later but saw his free-kick from 20 yards come back off the crossbar with Romero well beaten.

Arsenal attacker Sanchez fired another free-kick over and Chile should have levelled late on but Nicolas Castillo shot wide after latching onto Jean Beausejour's cross.