Messi urges Argentina to 'get back up' for Brazil clash after surprise defeat to Uruguay

World champions see 14-match unbeaten run come to an end following goals from Araujo and Nunez

Lionel Messi after the match as Uruguay players celebrate in the background following the 2-0 win over Argentina. Reuters
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Lionel Messi has urged Argentina to recover quickly ahead of their next 2026 World Cup qualifier against rivals Brazil after the world champions saw their 14-match unbeaten run ended by Uruguay on Thursday.

Entering the match at La Bombonera top of the South American qualifying group after four straight wins, Argentina fell to a 2-0 defeat to Uruguay following goals from Barcelona defender Ronald Araujo in the 41st minute and Liverpool striker Darwin Nunez in the 87th.

It was Messi and Argentina's first defeat since they were stunned 2-1 by Saudi Arabia at the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.

"We never felt comfortable," Messi said after the defeat.

"They're a physical team that works well and on the counterattack, they were very dangerous," added Messi, praising the work of Uruguay's revered Argentine coach Marcelo Bielsa.

"You can see his hand in the team. In all the teams or clubs he's been involved in, including Argentina, you can see his hand."

The Argentina captain meanwhile challenged his teammates to bounce back in next week's qualifying battle with Brazil, who have had a stuttering start to their qualifying campaign and sit fifth in the table after a defeat to Colombia on Thursday.

"Today it was our turn to lose. It's a test," Messi said. "We have to get back up and play a great game in Brazil."

Argentina remain on top of the standings with 12 points from five matches. Uruguay's win leaves them in second place on 10 points.

In other South American qualifiers, Nunez's Liverpool teammate Luis Diaz scored two goals in five minutes as Colombia came from behind to stun Brazil 2-1 in Barranquilla.

Diaz's dramatic double capped a roller-coaster month for the forward, whose father was taken hostage by Colombian guerrillas at the end of October before being released last week.

Diaz's father, Luis Manuel Diaz, was watching from the stands in tears as his son scored in the 75th and 79th minutes to fire Colombia to a crucial win.

Diaz's second-half double cancelled out Brazil's opener, which came from Arsenal forward Gabriel Martinelli after only four minutes.

A disappointing result for Brazil was compounded by an injury to Real Madrid star Vinicius Junior, who limped off clutching his left thigh after 27 minutes.

Diaz meanwhile said he had experienced "hard moments" after learning of his father's kidnapping in late October.

"But life makes you strong and brave and I think that's football, and not just football but life," said Diaz, dedicating his performance to Colombian compatriots.

"I'm grateful to my teammates, to the coaching staff who were always there for me at every moment. And I dedicate the victory to the people, who deserved it."

Colombia moved up to third place after the win with nine points from five games.

In other games, Venezuela ground out a 0-0 draw with Ecuador while Bolivia moved off the bottom of the 10-team standings with their first points of the qualifiers after a 2-0 home win over Peru.

Chile and Paraguay remain outside the qualifying spots after a goalless draw in Santiago.

The top six teams of the round-robin home-and-away qualifying tournament will earn berths at the expanded 2026 World Cup taking place in the United States, Canada and Mexico, while the seventh-placed team goes into a play-off.

Updated: November 17, 2023, 5:44 AM