MESSI’S GOAL EXTENDS BRAZIL’S WINLESS STREAK

Argentina captain Lionel Messi and Brazil coach Tite exchanged words during the friendly game between the South American giants on Friday, but it was the forward who had the last laugh after his team’s good run continued with a 1-0 win in Saudi Arabia.

The 32-year-old looked to the touchline and put his fingers to his lips, before making another hand sign that appeared to tell the Brazil coach he had too much to say.

Tite admitted he had been complaining to the referee during the first half and said the two men exchanged words.

“I complained because he (Messi) should have been shown a yellow card, and he told me to shut my mouth and I told him to shut his mouth,” he said. “And that was it.”

But the 58-year-old played down the incident and highlighted the forward’s performance.

Messi was one of the outstanding performers on his return to international football after missing four games through suspension. He was banned by Conmebol for three months after he accused South American football’s governing body of “corruption”, following his sending off in July’s third-place win over Chile at the Copa America.

He put all that behind him on Friday and scored the only goal after 14 minutes, when his penalty was saved but he followed up to beat Alisson. And he could have had another couple of goals but for some stout defending and the goalkeeper’s alertness.

Argentina have now gone six games without defeat, their longest such run since 2016.

Brazil, in contrast, are winless in five games since beating Peru in the Copa final – a run that includes 1-1 draws with Senegal and Nigeria in Singapore last month.

“From the very start we tried to play. We had a couple of misses and they had their chances,” Messi said. “But in the second half we were much better.

“When you win, it puts you more at ease and that is very positive for what lies ahead.

“I ended the match well, we all ran quite a bit. And that is what we were there to do.”

Argentina play Uruguay in a friendly next week while Brazil face South Korea.

Reuters, AFP