Lionel Messi converted a penalty as Argentina laboured to a 1-0 win over Chile in a World Cup qualifier on Thursday that put them back in the automatic qualifying spots for next year’s finals in Russia.
Messi beat Claudio Bravo from the spot in the 16th minute after Angel Di Maria had been pushed from behind during a poor, tense match on a terrible River Plate pitch.
Argentina, a shadow of the team that finished runners-up in 2014, moved into third in the 10-nation South American group on 22 points, eight behind leaders Brazil and one in arrears to second-placed Uruguay. Brazil earlier beat Uruguay 4-1.
Colombia, who beat Bolivia 1-0 at home, are now in the fourth qualifying place with 21 points, one ahead of Chile and Ecuador, who lost 2-1 away to Paraguay.