Argentine superstar Lionel Messi found himself laying on the pitch after a defender contested him one minute into Argentina’s World Cup qualifying match against Uruguay.
About 20 minutes later, Messi came to the defense of a teammate by pushing and putting his left hand around the neck of Uruguay’s Mathias Olivera in a scuffle that dissolved with no discipline from referees.
It set the tone for a feisty match between South American rivals, leaving Argentina on the losing end for the first time since winning the World Cup last December, falling to Uruguay 2-0 at Estadio La Bombonera in Buenos Aires on Wednesday night.
Ronald Araújo in the 41st minute and Darwin Núñez scored in the 86th minute to lead Uruguay, and break Argentine goalie Emiliano Martínez’s impressive shutout streak of 751 minutes.
“We had to lose someday, this happens,” Messi said in an interview after the match.
It was Argentina’s first loss in nearly a year, since falling 2-1 to Saudi Arabia in their World Cup opener on Nov. 22, 2022 – a result that did not impact Messi’s career defining moment in the World Cup final in Qatar last December.
Argentina had not relinquished a goal to their opponents in eight matches – four friendlies and four qualifying matches – since their thrilling victory over France in the World Cup final.
Martínez won the Golden Glove at the World Cup, and the Yashin Trophy last month at the Ballon d’Or awards ceremony as the best goalie in the game. But his streak, the longest in Argentina history, came to an end.
Messi — who made a much-ballyhooed summertime move to Major League Soccer’s Inter Miami — has not scored in a match since scoring in the 32nd and 42nd minutes in Argentina’s 2-0 win over Peru on Oct. 17.
Messi’s best chance in the match was a free kick outside the box in the 57th minute that just had too much behind it, hitting the top of the net, leaving him upset at the missed opportunity to tie the match at 1.
Messi had another free kick in the 23rd minute deflected by a header from a Uruguayan player, and at least two other shots that were deflected by defenders during the game.
Messi was in the thick of the match from the start, after being taken down by Nunez in the first minute. Messi also jumped in to defend his teammate Rodrigo De Paul when he and Olivera got into a heated scuffle. No players were given yellow or red cards, and play resumed.
Argentina suffered its first loss in World Cup qualifying, but retained the lead in the CONMEBOL standings with 12 points. Uruguay’s win improved them to 10 points, and solely in second place in the standings after entering the match tied with Brazil and Venezuela.
Argentina’s next match is against Brazil on Tuesday.
“Brazil’s matches are classic matches and separate matches that are not related to anything previous and carry a lot of history, so we must recover and get up,” Messi said.
Final: Uruguay 2, Argentina 0
Lionel Messi and Argentina had not relinquished a goal to their opponents in eight matches since their thrilling World Cup victory over France in Qatar last December.
That streak has come to an end.
Ronald Araújo in the 41st minute, and Darwin Núñez scored in the 86th minute to lead Uruguay past Messi and Argentina in a 2026 World Cup qualifying match at Estadio La Bombonera in Buenos Aires on Wednesday night.
Argentina suffered its first loss in World Cup qualifying, but retained the lead in the CONMEBOL standings with 12 points.
Uruguay’s win improved them to 10 points, and solely in second place in the standings after entering the match tied with Brazil and Venezuela.
Darwin Núñez goal in 86’: Uruguay 2, Argentina 0
This match is nearly over.
Darwin Núñez’s right boot found the back of the net, and Uruguay leads Argentina 2-0 in the final minutes of this World Cup qualifying match.
Argentina almost had a chance to tie this match.
Ángel Di María right boot in the 81st minute was wide, leaving him in disbelief after the attempt. Lautaro Martínez also missed a header that Uruguay goalie Sergio Eochet punched away in the 83rd minute after a series of corner kicks for the Argentinians.
The fans at Estadio La Bombonera, home of the Boca Juniors, are standing and cheering their home side with vigor, but to no avail.
Final 15 minutes left: Uruguay 1, Argentina 0
We’ve got 15 minutes left in the match, which has already featured five yellow cards and several contentious moments.
But Leo Messi and Argentina are running out of time if they want to tie or beat Uruguay in this 2026 World Cup qualifying match.
Argentina entered atop the CONMEBOL Standings, with the defending World Cup champions holding 12 points. Uruguay entered tied with Brazil and Venezuela with seven points.
But the outcome of this one will surely shake up the order.
Maximiliano Araújo injury: Uruguay 1, Argentina 0
Uruguay’s Maximiliano Araújo was carted off the pitch in the 61st minute after sustaining a lower leg injury.
Araújo reached for his right ankle and was emotion and in pain as he was taken off after colliding with an Argentine player.
Exequiel Palacios replaced him in Uruguay’s lineup.
Messi misses free kick in 57’: Uruguay 1, Argentina 0
Leo Messi’s magical left boot had a little too much juice during a free kick outside the box in the 57th minute.
Messi’s kick hit the top of the net’s post and into the stands, leaving Messi to raise his hands to his head in disgust after wasting a prime opportunity to tie this match.
Messi had another long shot in the 50th minute that was blocked.
Halftime: Messi, Argentina trail Uruguay 1-0
Well, that was an eventful opening half.
Leo Messi and the Argentine side were a feisty bunch, but trail 1-0 at halftime to Uruguay.
Ronald Araujo took a cross from Matías Viña, and found the lower left corner of the net in the 41st minute. The ball was deflected off Argentina goalie Emiliano Martínez on the shot.
Messi has missed one shot on goal, and had a free kick opportunity stopped by Uruguay’s wall in the first half.
Messi also came to the defense of a teammate during a scuffle between both teams in the 20th minute, and appeared to push and put his left hand around the neck of Uruguay’s Mathias Olivera.
Players from both Argentina and Uruguay participated in the brief altercation during the match between Olivera and Argentina midfielder Rodrigo De Paul. No players were given yellow or red cards, and play resumed.
How to watch Argentina vs. Uruguay in the U.S.?
The match begins at 7:30 p.m. ET, and will be broadcast by Telemundo and livestreamed on FuboTV, DirecTV Stream and ViX.
Ronald Araujo goal: Uruguay 1, Argentina 0
Ronald Araujo took a cross from his teammate, and his right boot deflected off Argentina goalie Emiliano Martínez in the 41st minute.
Araujo’s shot hit the bottom left side of the net after a cross by Matías Viña to give Uruguay a 1-0 lead just before halftime.
It is the first time in this round of Argentina’s World Cup qualifying matches that Messi’s side has faced a deficit and allowed the opposition to score a goal.
Messi’s free kick hits wall in 23’: Argentina 0, Uruguay 0
Messi’s free kick in the 23rd minute was deflected by a header from a Uruguayan player.
But the leadup to the free kick was interesting.
Messi pushed Uruguay’s Sebastian Caceres, and was then pushed down by Uruguay’s Manuel Ugarte as he was attacking the penalty area.
Messi got the benefit of the referee’s decision to set up a free kick, a call the Uruguay players were demonstratively upset about.
Messi puts his hand about Uruguay player’s neck in tussle in 20’: Argentina 0, Uruguay 0
Leo Messi appeared to put his left hand around the neck of Uruguay’s Mathias Olivera during a scuffle in the 20th minute of the match.
Players from both Argentina and Uruguay participated in the brief altercation during the match as it appeared Messi was defending a teammate.
No players were given yellow or red cards, and play resumed.
Here’s video of the sequence:
Messi misses in 13’: Argentina 0, Uruguay 0
Messi’s first shot in this match game in the 13th minute, after a defense by Uruguay’s Mathias Olivera.
Messi was able to shake Olivera, but his left boot from about 30 yards out was saved by Uruguay’s goalie Sergio Rochet.
Darwin Nunez misses shot in 10’: Argentina 0, Uruguay 0
Uruguay’s Darwin Nunez missed on his side’s first shot on goal in the match.
Nunez tried to squeeze it into the far-left side of the net with a right boot, but his shot was wide.
One minute later, Uruguay again charged toward the Argentina’s net but was stopped by the goalie.
Messi gets taken down in first minute: Argentina 0, Uruguay 0
The action started early for Leo Messi, who was taken down by Darwin Nunez in the first minute of the match.
Messi appeared to be in pain after the sequence, favoring his leg, but he got back to his feet.
The play led to a free kick in the second minute, which Messi did not take despite lining up for it.
Rodrigo De Paul kicked it into the box, and Uruguay quickly ended any chance with a good defense in the goal area.
Messi and Luis Suarez meet before Argentina, Uruguay match
Leo Messi and Luis Suarez, who will reportedly sign with Inter Miami for next season, met each other for a hug before tonight’s match between Argentina and Uruguay.
How much will Messi play against Uruguay?
Messi is likely to start, and play the entire match against Uruguay tonight.
Messi is healthy again after a leg injury in Argentina’s World Cup qualifying match on Sept. 7. The injury caused Messi to miss Argentina’s 3-0 win over Bolivia on Sept. 12 and six matches with Inter Miami in September.
“Messi is fine, he is doing well,” Argentina coach Lionel Scaloni said in a news conference on Thursday. “Beyond the fact that he played a game in the last 25 days, he has been training normally, he is in good condition and he is fine.”
Argentina’s Lionel Messi gestures during a training session in Ezeiza, Buenos Aires on November 14, 2023, ahead of the FIFA World Cup 2026 qualifier football match against Uruguay on November 16 in Buenos Aires. (Photo by JUAN MABROMATA/AFP via Getty Images)
How has Messi performed in recent matches?
Messi played the entire match in each of his last three appearances.
Messi appeared quite rusty in Inter Miami’s friendly last Friday, his first match in nearly three weeks after the MLS regular season ended (Inter Miami did not qualify for the MLS playoffs). He missed all his shots as Inter Miami lost 2-1 to New York City FC, on a night where Messi presented his eighth Ballon d’Or award to Inter Miami fans.
Messi had a goal negated because he was offsides, and a free kick was deflected off the crossbar in Inter Miami’s season finale loss to Charlotte FC 1-0 on Oct. 21.
Messi shined brightly and appeared 100 percent healthy in his last match with Argentina, scoring in the 32nd and 42nd minutes in a 2-0 win over Peru on Oct. 17.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Lionel Messi, Argentina lose 2026 World Cup qualifier to Uruguay