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Evening Standard
Evening Standard
Marc Mayo

Lionel Messi admits 'hand of Marcelo Bielsa' behind shock Argentina defeat to Uruguay

Lionel Messi described Argentina's defeat to Uruguay in World Cup qualification as down to one man: Marcelo Bielsa.

The ex-Leeds coach led his team to a 2-0 win at La Bombonera on Thursday night which sent them second in the CONMEBOL group, inflicting a first defeat on the world champions in the process.

"You can see his hand in what they are," explained Messi. "In all his teams or clubs, including the Argentine team [which Bielsa managed from 1998 to 2004], his hand is noticeable. They played very well.

"We had to lose [at some point]. It's a test, too.

"This can happen and we have to get up, try to have a great game in Brazil."

Goals from Ronald Araujo and Darwin Nunez defeated Messi's team and Argentina face Brazil next week with their South American rivals fifth in the table having lost to Colombia.

"It was difficult for us to play," the Inter Miami man added. "They were intense. They take you on face to face, they have physical and fast players in the middle. It was difficult for us to find our game.

"We never felt comfortable, we didn't find a way to keep the ball. That's why their game makes us accelerate too and we became infected with that rhythm. They are a physical team that works hard and is very dangerous on the counter-attack."

Bielsa responded to his victory in understated manner.

"It was not a match that was defined by tactical aspects," he said. "We defended a lot and quite well, from recovering the ball we were able to create some moments of good football and enough chances to score.

"In these types of matches, where everything is disputed, scoring goals makes the game unbalanced in favour of the team that scores them."

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