Argentina and Lionel Messi soar past Colombia in World Cup qualifying
Argentina 3 - 0 Colombia

Argentina and Lionel Messi soar past Colombia in World Cup qualifying

Lionel Messi's stunning free kick helped Argentina give their World Cup qualification hopes a timely boost with a 3-0 win over Colombia.

La Albiceleste went into the game at San Juan sixth in the South American qualifying table, with the top four qualifying automatically for Russia 2018 and the fifth-placed side entering a play-off against the top Oceania side.

However, goals from Messi, Lucas Pratto and Angel Di Maria helped Argentina end a four-match winless run and leapfrog their opponents into fifth.

After seeing his side thrashed 3-0 by Brazil last week, Argentina manager Edgardo Bauza made three changes with Manchester City full-back Pablo Zabaleta among those to make way.

Nicolas Otamendi headed a Messi free kick over the bar early on, but the Barcelona forward soon took matters into his own hands as he curled in a 25-yard effort on 10 minutes which clipped the bar on its way in.

Radamel Falcao headed over James Rodriguez's free kick and Argentina capitalised on that let-off as Pratto headed home Messi's cross from the right in the 23rd minute.

Di Maria hit the post in the second half but eventually got his name on the score sheet after 84 minutes, with Messi again the provider as he cut the ball back for the Paris Saint-Germain forward to fire into the roof of the net.

Argentina's next qualifier sees them host Chile -- the side one point and one place above them in the final automatic spot -- in March, while Colombia will have the chance to bounce back against struggling Bolivia.

Related news

Podolski scores stunning winner against England to end Germany career in style

Podolski scores stunning winner against England to end Germany career in style

Lukas Podolski scored the winner in his final international appearance as Germany defeated England 1-0 in Dortmund.

Brazil beat Peru to make it six qualifying wins in a row

Brazil beat Peru to make it six qualifying wins in a row

Manchester City-bound forward Gabriel Jesus scored one and set up another as Brazil made it six wins in a row with a 2-0 victory over Peru.

Cristiano Ronaldo scores twice but misses penalty as Portgual win

Cristiano Ronaldo scores twice but misses penalty as Portgual win

Cristiano Ronaldo scored a brace and missed a second-half penalty as Euro 2016 winners Portugal eased to victory in their World Cup qualifier against Latvia.

Mertens, Lukaku star as Belgium thump Estonia in qualifying

Mertens, Lukaku star as Belgium thump Estonia in qualifying

Belgium thumped Estonia 8-1 to make it four wins out of four in Group H of the World Cup qualifiers.

Memphis Depay double sparks Netherlands past Luxembourg

Memphis Depay double sparks Netherlands past Luxembourg

Memphis Depay scored two second-half goals to spare Netherlands' blushes in a 3-1 World Cup qualifying win in Luxembourg.

Spain set home record in smashing defeat of Macedonia

Spain set home record in smashing defeat of Macedonia

Spain's 4-0 win over Macedonia -- their 93rd home victory in a qualifying campaign -- set a new all-time record.

Italy beat Liechtenstein to keep pace with group leaders Spain

Italy beat Liechtenstein to keep pace with group leaders Spain

Andrea Belotti scored twice as Italy kept the pressure on Group G leaders Spain with a 4-0 win over Liechtenstein in Vaduz.

Mitrovic cancels out Bale opener in Wales-Serbia draw

Mitrovic cancels out Bale opener in Wales-Serbia draw

Wales suffered a World Cup blow as Serbia struck late on at the Cardiff City Stadium to earn a 1-1 draw.

RELATED NEWS

Podolski scores stunning winner against England to end Germany career in style
Germany 1 - 0 England

Podolski scores stunning winner against England to end Germany career in style

Lukas Podolski scored the winner in his final international appearance as Germany defeated England 1-0 in Dortmund.

Brazil beat Peru to make it six qualifying wins in a row
Peru 0 - 2 Brazil

Brazil beat Peru to make it six qualifying wins in a row

Manchester City-bound forward Gabriel Jesus scored one and set up another as Brazil made it six wins in a row with a 2-0 victory over Peru.

Cristiano Ronaldo scores twice but misses penalty as Portgual win
Portgual 4 - 1 Latvia

Cristiano Ronaldo scores twice but misses penalty as Portgual win

Cristiano Ronaldo scored a brace and missed a second-half penalty as Euro 2016 winners Portugal eased to victory in their World Cup qualifier against Latvia.

Mertens, Lukaku star as Belgium thump Estonia in qualifying
Belgium 8 - 1 Estonia

Mertens, Lukaku star as Belgium thump Estonia in qualifying

Belgium thumped Estonia 8-1 to make it four wins out of four in Group H of the World Cup qualifiers.

Memphis Depay double sparks Netherlands past Luxembourg
Luxembourg 1 - 3 Netherlands

Memphis Depay double sparks Netherlands past Luxembourg

Memphis Depay scored two second-half goals to spare Netherlands' blushes in a 3-1 World Cup qualifying win in Luxembourg.

Spain set home record in smashing defeat of Macedonia
Spain 4 - 0 Macedonia

Spain set home record in smashing defeat of Macedonia

Spain's 4-0 win over Macedonia -- their 93rd home victory in a qualifying campaign -- set a new all-time record.

Italy beat Liechtenstein to keep pace with group leaders Spain
Liechtenstein 0 - 4 Italy

Italy beat Liechtenstein to keep pace with group leaders Spain

Andrea Belotti scored twice as Italy kept the pressure on Group G leaders Spain with a 4-0 win over Liechtenstein in Vaduz.

Mitrovic cancels out Bale opener in Wales-Serbia draw
Wales 1 - 1 Serbia

Mitrovic cancels out Bale opener in Wales-Serbia draw

Wales suffered a World Cup blow as Serbia struck late on at the Cardiff City Stadium to earn a 1-1 draw.