Lionel Messi Argentina Di Maria
Argentina forward Lionel Messi celebrates with teammates Lucas Pratto and Angel Di Maria after a goal against Colombia in their World Cup qualifier, November 15, 2016Reuters

Argentina had to bounce back from their defeat to rivals Brazil, and they did, with Lionel Messi, obviously, leading the way, while Chile also found their mojo, thanks to their superstar own Alexis Sanchez, who grabbed a brace.

With both teams needing wins after recent disappointing results, the pressure was on their main men to step up, and step up they did with Messi scoring the opening goal of a 3-0 win over Colombia and Sanchez notching the winner and the icing goal in a 3-1 victory over Uruguay.

Sitting out of the automatic qualifying spots and indeed the playoff position as well, Argentina knew only a win would do in San Juan, if they are not to have those worry lines to stay right through the winter.

To their credit, they made sure those worries would not stay, with Messi leading the way. The Barcelona superstar, who has been in the news over his reported future with the Spanish club, opened the scoring in the ninth minute with a quite wonderful free-kick.

After giving Argentina the lead, Messi made sure that advantage would grow by assisting Lucas Pratto for a 2-0 lead, before Angel Di Maria added the gloss late in the second half.

In Santiago, Chile were in early trouble when Edinson Cavani scored for Uruguay in the 16th minute, but the home team grabbed a crucial equaliser in first half stoppage time through Eduardo Vargas.

That gave Chile the momentum they needed, and when you have a player of the quality of Sanchez, you always know you're going to be a threat. The Arsenal forward, under scrutiny after missing the last qualifier with an injury, gave Chile the lead on the hour, before adding another 16 minutes later to hand his country a much-needed victory.

Brazil  extended their lead at the top of the table with a 2-0 win over Peru in the late match. Gabriel Jesus opened the scoring for the away team in Lima, before Renato Augusto added the second to pull Brazil four points clear of the rest.

Uruguay are second on 23 points, while Chile are now fourth, level on points with third-placed Ecuador, who beat Venezuela. Argentina are fifth, a point adrift on 19 from 12 matches.

Results: Argentina 3-0 Colombia; Chile 3-1 Uruguay; Peru 0-2 Brazil; Bolivia 1-0 Paraguay; Ecuador 3-0 Venezuela.

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