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Sports

Neymar outshines Messi as Brazil's 3-0 win leaves Argentina in trouble

Neymar and his Brazilian teammates have swept away Argentina as Lionel Messi struggled to make an impact. A 3-0 win puts Brazil in a dominant position in South American World Cup qualifying while Argentina struggle.

Brazil 3 – 0 Argentina
(Coutinho 24,' Neymar 45,' Paulinho 59')

Messi's return, after missing his country's last three games following his retirement u-turn, was the big talking point in the lead up to the game but it was his Barcelona teammate who stole the show. First Neymar had a hand in Philippe Coutinho's opener before the 24-year-old slotted home from close range to register his 50th goal for his country at the end of the first half. Paulinho capped the win just before the hour mark.

The victory gives Brazil a significant cushion in the race to qualify for World Cup 2018. They sit seven points above fifth-placed Chile while Argentina are a further point back in sixth. The top four South American teams qualify automatically while the fifth-placed side play a team from Oceania in a playoff.

Brazil coach Tite has enjoyed a strong start to his reign since taking over from Dunga and a win at Belo Horizonte - where Brazil lost 7-1 in the 2014 World Cup semifinal to Germany - was particularly sweet. After the game he explained how his team had neutralized Messi's threat.

"We forced our way into the Argentina half more to the left so Messi wouldn't be immediately near the ball, since he was on the right," Tite said. "When he was forced to move, it became better for us because that other side was already crowded."

Argentina boss Edgardo Bauza has not enjoyed such a strong start. His side have just two points from their last four matches and Messi believes changes are needed.

"We can't repeat what we have been doing because that won't work," he said. "We have to change a lot."

Elsewhere in the South American section, Venezuela got their first win of the campaign with a 5-0 hammering of bottom side Bolivia while Peru kept their hopes alive with a 4-1 away win over Paraguay.

There are a further five fixtures in the section on Tuesday when Argentina host Colombia and Brazil travel to Peru.

mp/pfd (AP/dpa)

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