A disappointing return for Messi as Argentina lost to Venezuela

Argentina 1-3 Venezuela

Lionel Messi made a disappointing return to Argentina duty after being injured in a 3-1 defeat by Venezuela in a friendly in Madrid.

Barcelona forward Messi missed six internationals following a self-imposed exile since losing to eventual winners France at the World Cup in Russia.

Messi showed flashes of brilliance but it was not his night as Venezuela put three past their more illustrious rivals for the first time.

Newcastle striker Salomon Rondon gave Venezuela an early lead and Jhon Murillo doubled their lead just before the break.

Lautaro Martinez reduced the deficit for Argentina but and Josef Martinez added a third goal with a penalty.

Messi, 31, finished the match but felt pain in his groin and will sit out Tuesday’s friendly against Morocco. The injury, described as a flare up of an existing problem, is not thought to be serious.

Manchester City’s Sergio Aguero, Chelsea’s on-loan striker Gonzalo Higuain and Inter Milan’s Mauro Icardi were all left out of the squad by manager Lionel Scaloni.

Despite five substitutions being made by Argentina, Juventus forward Paulo Dybala failed to make it off the bench although Watford’s Roberto Pereyra did play the final 12 minutes at Atletico Madrid’s Wanda Metropolitano Stadium.

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