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Messi spares Argentine blushes, Neymar inspires Brazil

Messi spares Argentine blushes, Neymar inspires Brazil

NEW YORK: Lionel Messi scored with a spectacular 89th-minute volley to cap Argentina’s comeback from a two-goal deficit in a 2-2 draw against Mexico while his Barcelona team-mate Neymar scored two second-half goals to inspire Brazil to a 4-1 win over the United States in international friendlies on Tuesday.

Mexico and the US face off in an October 10 playoff that will determine the CONCACAF region’s representative at the 2017 Confederations Cup and they took on the South American arch-rivals as preparation for that crunch clash.

Argentina appeared to be heading to their first defeat against Mexico since 2004 after a first-half penalty from Javier Hernan­dez and a second-half strike from Hector Herrera fired ‘El Tri’ into a 2-0 lead in Dallas, Texas.

But Sergio Aguero scored after 85 minutes when Ezequiel Lavezzi burst into the penalty area and crossed for him to side-foot into the empty net before Messi chested down the ball inside the box and then half volleyed home to rob Mexico of the win.

“Mexico scored the goals but I think Argentina controlled the game,” Argentina coach Gerardo Martino said after the match. “We had as many chances but we didn’t put them away.”

Brazil took the lead in Foxborough, Massachusetts, after eight minutes thanks to Hulk fired home from eight metres after a Willian cross came back off the upright.

Neymar came on at half-time and doubled Brazil’s lead with a penalty in the 51st before Rafinha deftly finished an exquisite pass from Lucas Moura for Brazil’s third in the 64th.

Neymar made it 4-0 three minutes later when he managed to evade a clutch of defenders inside the box and slip the ball home from 10 metres out before Danny Williams scored a late consolation for the Americans, lashing home a 30-yard screamer in the 90th minute.

“I don’t think we handled it as well as we should have,” US captain Michael Bradley said. “We’ll look at it and we’ll talk about it, but we have bigger things to come.”

Ecuador beat Honduras 2-0 in one of the evening’s other friendlies, while a last minute penalty from Jefferson Farfan gave Peru a 1-1 draw against Colombia.

Venezuela and Panama also shared the spoils in a dour 1-1 draw, and an early Bryan Ruiz goal gave Costa Rica a 1-0 victory over Uruguay.

Published in Dawn, September 10th, 2015

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