Argentina ensured their place in the Copa America quarter-finals on Monday when they beat Paraguay 1-0 as Lionel Messi made a record-equalling 147th appearance for the national side.
The victory in Brasilia was Argentina’s second 1-0 win in a row in this tournament and their 16th match without defeat since losing in the Copa America semi-final in 2019.
It gives them seven points from three games and leaves them top of Group A, two points ahead of Chile, four ahead of Paraguay and six ahead of Uruguay.
Bolivia are bottom with no points from two matches, so with four of the five teams qualifying for the last eight, Argentina are sure of progressing.
Paraguay had never beaten Argentina over 90 minutes in the Copa America, a run that covers 25 matches, and they were up against it as early as the 10th minute when Argentina went ahead.
Alejandro Gomez took a delightful pass from Angel Di Maria and dinked the ball over the diving keeper.
Argentina thought they had a second when Junior Alonso deflected a cross into his own net on the stroke of half-time but the goal was chalked off by VAR.
Paraguay came out more positive in the second half, with Newcastle United’s Miguel Almiron always dangerous on the left wing.
However, Paraguay could not turn their lion’s share of possession into chances and now face two tricky games against Chile and Uruguay.
For Argentina, Sergio Aguero made his first international start since November 2019 but was anonymous up front and it was Di Maria and Messi who stood out – with the latter equalling Javier Mascherano’s record of 147 games in the blue and white shirt.
Arturo Vidal put through his own net to give Uruguay their first goal in five games and grant them a point in a gripping 1-1 Copa America encounter with Chile.
Eduardo Vargas put Chile ahead in the 26th minute with a fierce angled drive but Luis Suarez pounced on a knockdown midway through the second half to pressure Vidal into scoring an own goal.