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Messi scores 50th international goal to lift Argentina into 3rd place

theScore logo theScore 30-03-2016

Argentina did what it was supposed to do: beat Bolivia at home.

La Albiceleste dispatched the visiting side in a comprehensive 2-0 victory on Tuesday, their third consecutive triumph in CONMEBOL World Cup qualifying.

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They did it with the help of Lionel Messi, of course, who converted a first-half penalty to all but end the contest. It was his 50th goal in his 107th international appearance, and it puts him just six behind Gabriel Batistuta's all-time scoring record and one shy of the 500 mark for both club and country.

© Reuters

The win is a boon to a nation that limped into the qualifying campaign. After failing to win in its first two matches, Argentina is suddenly a lot healthier in third place in the division. Brazil could jump ahead of its arch rival with a result against Paraguay later Tuesday evening.

But these three points came with an asterisk. Angel Di Maria had to leave the match in the first half with what appeared to be a leg injury.

The 28-year-old is no stranger to the forced substitution on international duty, having required an early change in last summer's Copa America final.

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The immediate aftermath, however, is positive. Gabriel Mercado tapped in a rebound to open the scoring in the 20th minute and Messi coolly slotted home from the spot 10 minutes later to give Argentina much more breathing room in the standings.

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