Lionel Messi and Argentina played their first competitive match since November 2020, taking on Chile in the rescheduled South American World Cup qualifiers from March. The match ended in a 1-1 draw, as Lionel Messi’s 23rd-minute penalty was cancelled out by former Barcelona man Alexis Sanchez.
Messi’s goal saw him climb to second in the charts for most goals scored in the history of South American World Cup qualifiers with 23, two shy of former Barcelona teammate Luis Suarez. Following the draw, Messi spoke about what it felt like to play with the national team after so long.
“It was a difficult match, as always against Chile. I’m happy with the result beyond the fact that we could not win. The dynamics of the team is good, it was not easy to come back after so much time,” Messi said.
He also stated that Argentina have to improve now ahead of the Copa America, which starts in a little over a week: “Little by little we have to get stronger again.”
It was also the first match Argentina played after the tragic passing of Diego Maradona. The legend was given a tribute by all the Albiceleste players before kickoff. Messi spoke about the heartfelt tribute to the national hero, it being a very emotional moment for him too.
“It was a very special match because it was the first without Diego. We know what the National Team meant for him, and we know that he was present. Besides, it was special because of the situation in the country and the world, it is a very difficult for everyone,” said the superstar.
Argentina maintain second position in the CONMEBOL qualifying group after their draw and will face Colombia next on Tuesday, at the Estadio Metropolitano Roberto Melendez in Barranquilla.