Messi leads Argentina past Brazil

Lionel Messi scored in injury time to give Argentina a 1-0 victory over Brazil in a friendly between the two South American rivals on Wednesday.

A match of few clearcut chances was heading for a goalless draw until Messi went on a trademark run in the second minute of stoppage time, with the Barcelona forward sidestepping two Brazil defenders before slotting the ball past goalkeeper Victor.

Argentina’s coach Sergio Batista, who earned the victory in his first match since taking permanent charge of the team, said he was especially pleased with Messi. He came out and set the tone for the team with several nifty passes and runs early in the first half. The victory marks the first time Messi has beaten Brazil as a member of the senior side.

"Messi means everything to us," Batista said. "In the first minute, he showed why he’s the best player in the world."

Brazil coach Mano Menezes, who suffered his first defeat since taking over the team following its World Cup disappointment, said he thought the team deserved a draw. He said he was especially upset the team conceded a goal in stoppage time and throughout lacked "quality finishes."

"It’s awful but we have to asses the game as whole. The team had a good posture," he said. "To be even would be more fair. Unfortunately, they scored at the end of the game which was bad but lesson has been good."

Messi’s goal was the highlight of an otherwise sluggish match, with both sides pressing but neither able to finish.

Brazil’s best chance came in the 16th minute when Daniel Alves hit the bar with a shot from inside the area. Ronaldinho, making his Brazil return after nearly 18 months, had several shots on goal but nothing that really threatened goalkeeper Sergio Romero.

Menezes said he was happy with the AC Milan midfielders performance and only pulled him in the 72nd minute because he appeared tired.

The 30-year-old Ronaldinho played in the 2002 and 2006 World Cups but missed out this year. Ronaldinho hasn’t played for Brazil since a World Cup qualifier against Peru in 2009.

"First of all, he had a good match. He took responsibility to create most of the plays we had," Menezes said. "We did good bringing him out here."

Lineups:

Brazil: Andre Santos, Daniel Alves, David Luiz, Elias, Lucas Leiva, Neymar (Andre, 77), Ramires (Jucilei, 85), Robinho, Ronaldinho (Douglas, 72), Thiago Silva, Victor.

Argentina: Gonzalo Higuain (Ezequiel Lavezzi, 45), Angel Di Maria, Lionel Messi, Javier Mascherano, Ever Banega, Javier Zanetti, Nicolas Burdisso, Javier Pastore (Andres D’Alessandro, 70), Gabriel Heinze, Sergio Romero, Nicolas Pareja.