Lionel Messi shone as Argentina defeated Colombia 3-0 in Tuesday’s home 2018 Russia World Cup qualifying match to end a four-game winless run.

Lionel Messi, Argentina Boycott Press After Beating Colombia 3-0 In 2018 World Cup Qualifier

The Barcelona forward opened scoring with an excellent free-kick in the 10th minute before setting up Lucas Pratto’s first-half header at the Estadio San Juan del Bicentenario.

Messi, a five-time Ballon’ d’Or winner, also assisted on Angel di Maria’s tap-in with six minutes remaining.

Colombia striker Radamel Falcao, who plays for Monaco, had a few chances before the break, but the visitors were otherwise outplayed.


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Argentina, the 2014 World Cup runners-up, moved above Colombia to fifth in the CONMEBOL standings. They were desperate for a win after falling 3-0 to Brazil in Belo Horizonte last week.

Meanwhile, qualifying leader Brazil defeated Peru 2-0 in Lima for a sixth consecutive victory.

Gabriel Jesus struck in the 58th minute before teeing up Renato Augusto for the second goal 20 minutes later.

The win lifted the South American powerhouse four points clear of closest rival Uruguay after 12 games, with Peru remaining in eighth place.

Argentina also made news on Tuesday, however, by engaging in a protest against what they perceived as mistreatment by the media. Captain Messi led the team in the press boycott, which they said would continue until further notice.

“We have decided not to speak any more with the press,” Messi announced in the post-match press conference room with his 25 team-mates attending. “We’ve received many accusations, a lot of lack of respect and we never said anything. We’re very sorry it has to be like this but we have no option. We know there are lots of you who are not in the game of not showing us respect but getting into one’s personal life is very grave and that’s why we’re here [announcing this],” he added before they all walked out.

The players have faced heavy criticism by some of the Argentine media over a loss of form and poor results. However, the straw that broke the camel’s back for the team and seems to have made them decide to protest was a radio report that alleged Ezequiel Lavezzi smoked marijuana after training. It was announced at Tuesday’s press conference that Lavezzi is taking the Radio Mitre reporter to court.

The top four teams in Argentina’s World Cup qualifying group head straight into the finals in Russia, while the fifth qualifies for an intercontinental playoff.

There are six rounds of games remaining next year, with Argentina resuming their qualifying bid at home against Chile, who stand at fourth behind Brazil, Uruguay and Ecuador.

Tuesday’s CONMEBOL results:

Bolivia 1-0 Paraguay
Ecuador 3-0 Venezuela
Argentina 3-0 Colombia
Chile 3-1 Uruguay
Peru 0-2 Brazil

BELO HORIZONTE, BRAZIL – NOVEMBER 10: Messi #10 of Argentina a match between Brazil and Argentina as part 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia Qualifier at Mineirao stadium on November 10, 2016 in Belo Horizonte, Brazil. (Photo by Pedro Vilela/Getty Images)

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