Lionel Messi said his Argentina side “never felt comfortable” as they were beaten 2-0 by Uruguay in World Cup qualifying.
A goal in either half from Ronald Araujo and Darwin Nunez inflicted a first qualification campaign defeat on the 2022 World Cup winners, who had won four from four heading into Thursday’s fixture.
Victory for Marcelo Bielsa’s Uruguay saw them close the gap between themselves and Argentina at the top of the qualifying standings to two points.
“They are a strong and physical team and played with more intensity,” Messi told TyC Sports. “We struggled to find ourselves and our game.
“We never felt comfortable, didn’t find a way to end up with the ball or the control of the actions, were not able to have long possessions, didn’t create chances and played the game that they wanted, in their rhythm.
“They are a physical team that bring a lot of danger in the counter-attacks and they showed that with the goals they scored.”
Tempers flared after just 20 minutes at La Bombonera in Buenos Aires, with players pulled apart following a mass confrontation.
Araujo gave Uruguay the lead on 41 minutes, arriving late at the back post to tuck home Matias Vina’s low delivery. The goalscorer was later stretchered off with injury shortly after the hour mark.
Uruguay doubled their advantage with three minutes of normal time remaining, Nunez finding a burst of pace to move away from the Argentina back line and finish coolly to put the game beyond the hosts.
The victory is Uruguay’s third from five 2026 World Cup qualifying matches following Bielsa’s appointment in May.
Both sides return to action on Tuesday, with Uruguay hosting Bolivia and Argentina travelling to Brazil, who sit fifth after Thursday’s defeat to Colombia.
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(Photo: Luis Robayo/AFP via Getty Images)