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Messi scores again as Argentina top Chile 2-1

BUENOS AIRES, Argentina -- Lionel Messi scored again in Argentina's 2-1 victory on Tuesday over Chile, which kept the favorites atop the standings in South America's World Cup qualifying.

Messi has scored three goals over two games in four days, which has yielded six key points for Argentina.

In other qualifying matches on Tuesday, Ecuador drew 1-1 with Venezuela, Paraguay defeated Peru 1-0, and Bolivia beat Uruguay 4-1.

Argentina has 20 points atop the standings, three ahead of Ecuador and four up on Colombia. Uruguay, Chile and Venezuela have 12 each, with the top four to qualify for the World Cup and the fifth team to face a further playoff.

Peru and Bolivia have eight and Paraguay has seven.

“It was a good couple of days for us,” Messi said. “Six points against difficult teams like Uruguay and Chile. But when this resumes in March, it will be just as difficult. But obviously six points help us relax.”

Messi has 31 goals for Argentina, two behind Diego Maradona on Argentina's career scoring list. Gabriel Batistuta leads the all-time list with 54.

The Barcelona star has 12 goals in eight games this year for Argentina, the main reason that the South Americans are looking as one of early favorites to win the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.

South American qualifiers resume on March 22, when the fixtures will be: Argentina vs. Venezuela, Uruguay vs. Paraguay, Peru vs. Chile, and Colombia vs. Bolivia. Ecuador will sit out the next round.

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Argentina's Fernando Gago, center, vies for the ball with Chile's Mark Gonzalez, left, during a World Cup 2014 qualifying soccer match in Santiago, Chile, Tuesday, Oct. 16. At right is Chile's Eduardo Vargas. (AP)



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