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Two goals in six minutes before halftime, one of them an unusually fortunate effort from Lionel Messi, has helped Argentina on their way to a comfortable 3-0 win over Uruguay in a CONMEBOL World Cup qualifier on Sunday.
Argentine captain Messi floated a 35-metre pass into the area but it was missed by both advancing striker Nicolas Gonzalez and goalkeeper Fernando Muslera and somehow finished in the net.
After the home side drew first blood they never looked like losing an unbeaten run that now stands at 24 games.
In the 44th, Lautaro Martinez swung at a chance on the edge of the box but the loose ball fell into the path of Rodrigo De Paul who made no mistake.
Martinez made up for the miss when he converted a low cross from De Paul 17 minutes into the second half.
"We played a great game ... Everything worked out perfectly," Messi said.
"Uruguay wait for you and they generate danger. Once we got the first goal we started to find space and the goals appeared."
The victory, combined with Brazil's 0-0 draw in Colombia earlier in the day which ended the Selecao's nine-match winning run, 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, who ended the day fourth, were unbeaten in eight matches coming into Sunday's match.
Elsewhere, third-placed Ecuador lost 2-1 on their travels to Venezuela.
Enner Valencia opened the scoring for the visitors from the spot in the 37th minute, but Venezuela responded with goals by Darwin Machis late in the first half and Eduard Bello in the 64th.
Ecuador remain on 16 points and last-placed Venezuela have seven.
Chile won for the first time in eight qualifying matches to keep their slender hopes of progressing alive.
Ben Brereton and Mauricio Isla scored in the 68th and 72nd minutes to lift the Chileans, who missed out on Russia in 2018, to 11 points, just five behind fifth-placed Colombia.
Bolivia scored a 1-0 win over Peru in La Paz with substitute Ramiro Vaca drilling home a low left-foot shot in the 82nd minute after the hosts had Henry Vaca sent off seven minutes prior.
Peru remain seventh on 11 points and Bolivia improve to eighth on nine points.
The top four teams qualify automatically for Qatar and the fifth-placed side go into an inter-regional playoff.