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Messi leads Argentina over Uruguay

Buenos Aires, Argentina (Sports Network) - Argentina maintained its place atop the CONMEBOL table in World Cup qualifying on Friday as Lionel Messi scored a pair of second-half goals in Argentina's 3-0 win over Uruguay.

Messi was denied by the crossbar in the first half, and although Argentina enjoyed much of the possession, it took until the 65th minute for the breakthrough to arrive.

Angel Di Maria set up Messi's first goal with a nice pass inside the penalty area, while Sergio Aguero benefited from some more good work from Di Maria to double the advantage in the 77th.

Messi then sealed the win 10 minutes from time with a well-placed free kick to give Argentina 17 points from eight games.

Colombia and Ecuador both kept pace with Argentina as the two sides also secured wins on Friday to remain within striking distance.

Colombia continues to ride the brilliance of Radamel Falcao, who scored two more goals on Friday in a 2-0 victory over Paraguay, while Ecuador got a brace from Felipe Caicedo in a 3-1 triumph against Chile.

The other qualifier in South America saw Bolivia and Peru play to a 1-1 draw that keeps both sides in the bottom half of the table.

10/12 22:53:45 ET