ARGENTINA 3 - 0 COLOMBIA
Messi leads Argentina up table after Colombia win
Argentina's 3-0 win over Colombia with a magical performance from their main man helped them leapfrog their opponents. A media boycott then followed.
Messi magic keeps Albiceleste in the hunt
It was billed as a must-win game for Argentina if they were to have any serious ambitions about qualifying for Russia 2018 and, thanks to their talisman Lionel Messi, they took all three points against Colombia in San Juan.
Messi curled home a stunning 30-yard free-kick to get the team going and set up goals for Lucas Pratto and Angel Di Maria. The victory elevated Argentina into the qualifying places after a disastrous run of results which saw them take just two points from their previous four games.
Media shun for marijuana claim
But the feelgood factor generated by the result was overshadowed by a media boycott imposed by a furious Messi and his Argentina team-mates after the final whistle. Messi said the Albiceleste's players were incensed by a claim made by an Argentine journalist that forward Ezequiel Lavezzi had been caught smoking marijuana in the camp. Lavezzi, who was not included on the substitutes bench against Colombia, has angrily denied the claims.
"We have made the decision not to talk to the press anymore, obviously you know why," said Messi, who has an often tense relationship with Argentina's media. "There were a lot of accusations, a lot of disrespect, and the accusations they made against 'Pocho' (Lavezzi) are very serious."
"We know that most of you guys don't play that game of disrespect. We can be criticised if we lose, or win, or if we play well or badly. But this is getting into personal lives. If we don't put a stop to it now, we'll never stop it."
Back in their own hands
Tuesday's win left Argentina in fifth spot in the 10-team standings, with 19 points from 12 games. The top four sides qualify automatically for the 2018 finals while the fifth-placed team goes into a play-off with the first-placed team from the Oceania zone.
Colombia meanwhile slipped to sixth place following the defeat, one point behind Argentina.