Messi pushes Argentina past Colombia
Substitute Sergio Aguero's 85th-minute goal completed Argentina's comeback for a 2-1 victory over Colombia in South American World Cup qualifying on Tuesday.
Lionel Messi had leveled the scores in the 61st after Colombia had taken a 1-0 lead in the 45th from an own-goal by Argentina midfielder Javier Mascherano.
Argentina has seven points in four qualifiers. Colombia has four points but has played only three games.
''We just won a very important game in the heat and the humidity,'' Aguero said. ''These were tough conditions. Today we began a new stage.
''We played OK in the first half,'' he added. ''But in the second, when I came in, we went more on the attack.''
The victory will take the heat off new Argentina coach Alejandro Sabella and many of his maligned players, who disappointed in last year's World Cup and this year's Copa America, the continental championship.
Argentina defeated Chile 4-1 in its opening qualifier, but fell 1-0 against Venezuela and stumbled to a 1-1 draw on Saturday against Bolivia in Buenos Aires.
Colombia relied on counterattacking with Argentina struggling in the hot, humid conditions in the Caribbean port city of Barranquilla. Argentina improved in the second half with Aguero, slowed by a leg injury, teaming up with Messi and Gonzalo Higuain.
Colombia took a deserved lead through Mascherano's own-goal. After James Rodriguez was fouled just outside the area, Darlon Pabon hit the resulting free kick into the area and Maschearno deflected it into the net.
Colombia had the best chances in the first half, but Aguero's changed the momentum coming off the bench.
Messi scored from a rebound after Colombia goalkeeper David Ospina stopped Jose Sosa's initial shot and failed to control the rebound.
Aguero got his goal when Ospina blocked a shot by Higuain, the Manchester City striker slotting home the loose ball.
Colombia's Camilo Zuniga nearly scored in the 79th but Argentina keeper Sergio Romero came up with a point-blank save, which may have saved the match for the Gauchos.
Colombia: David Ospina, Camilo Zuniga, Mario Alberto Yepes, Aquivaldo Mosquera, Pablo Armero, Gustavo Bolivar, Pablo Aguilar (Diego Arias, 76), Adrian Ramos, James Rodriguez, Dorlan Pabon (Dayron Moreno, 61), Jackson Martinez (Darwin Quintero, 76).
Argentina: Sergio Romero, Pablo Zabaleta, Federico Fernandez, Nicolas Burdisso (Leandro Desabato, 36), Clemente Rodriguez, Rodrigo Brana, Javier Mascherano, Pablo Guinazu (Sergio Aguero, 46), Jose Sosa, Lionel Messi, Gonzalo Higuain (Fernando Gago, 85).