South American WCQ round-up
Argentina impress as Colombia hammer Uruguay
Last Updated: September 8, 2012 9:43am
Lionel Messi: Impressed in Argentina's World Cup qualifying win over Paraguay
Argentina moved top of the South American World Cup qualifying group after a 3-1 win over Paraguay, while Colombia thrashed Uruguay.
An impressive attacking display from Argentina trio Lionel Messi, Gonzalo Higuain and Angel Di Maria saw off Paraguay 3-1 in Cordoba.
Argentina headed into the game on a five-match winning streak and raced out of the blocks, Angel Di Maria's precise left-footed finish rounding off good work from Ezequiel Lavezzi on the right before the visitors had settled.
Paraguay were level soon after, though, when Estudiantes midfielder Rodrigo Brana inexplicably handled the ball inside the box, and Argentina-born Jonathan Fabbro made no mistake from the spot.
Argentina appeared nervous after being pegged back, but they were soon back in front as Higuain capitalised on a defensive mistake on the edge of the area to pick his spot at the far post.
Messi almost stretched the advantage immediately with a free-kick but saw his effort hit Justo Villar's right post.
The Barcelona forward was again denied by the woodwork at the start of the second half after mesmerising two defenders and beating Villar.
It was third time lucky for Messi, though, when his 64th-minute free-kick went in via the left upright to seal Argentina's win.
Colombia thrashed Copa America champions Uruguay 4-0 in Barranquilla to climb to fifth spot in the standings.
Atletico Junior striker Teofilo Gutierrez was the star of the show for the Cafeteros with two goals, with Atletico Madrid forward Radamel Falcao and Napoli defender Juan Camilo Zuniga also on target.
The win gave Colombia six points from a possible nine since Argentinian coach Jose Nestor Pekerman took charge.
Ecuador climbed to joint second place in the standings, alongside Chile on 12 points, after Felipe Caicedo's 70th-minute penalty secured a 1-0 win over Bolivia in Quito.
Peru battled from a goal down to sink Venezuela 2-1 in Lima.
A Juan Arango free-kick just before half-time put the Vinotintos ahead, but a brace from Schalke striker Jefferson Farfan saw Sergio Markarian's side register their second win of the qualifying competition.
The visitors' misery was compounded by a late red card for defender Gabriel Cichero.