With Argentina reeling in World Cup qualifying, Lionel Messi stepped up and delivered a crucial goal early in its match vs. Colombia–and he did so in spectacular fashion.
Messi scored on a perfect free kick in the 10th minute, giving Argentina a 1-0 lead en route to a 3-0 win. The reigning World Cup finalists entered Tuesday on the outside of the qualifying places for Russia 2018 and were handed a humbling 3-0 loss by rival Brazil on Friday, but Messi tried to turn the tables with his one-goal, two-assist effort Tuesday.
Standing some 30 yards from goal, Messi put a left-footed blast inside the upper right-hand corner of the net, leaving goalkeeper David Ospina with no chance:
The goal was Messi's 57th for Argentina. He set the national record for goals against the USA on another sensational free kick during Copa America Centenario.
Messi turned provider soon after his strike, setting up Lucas Pratto with a pinpoint assist from the right for Argentina's second in the 23rd minute.
Messi helped Argentina seal the 3-0 victory by setting up Angel Di Maria for the goal that iced the match. First he pressured to win the ball, then he dribbled, waited, picked out Di Maria and put it on a platter for the tap-in.
Argentina had entered Tuesday in sixth place in CONMEBOL's qualifying table, a point behind Chile and two behind Colombia. The top four teams qualify automatically for the World Cup, while the fifth place team goes into an intercontinental playoff for a final place in Russia.