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Messi’s return to Argentina ends in a defeat

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Lionel Messi’s return to Argentina was marred by a 3-1 loss to Venezuela at the Wanda Metropolitano stadium.

Since their elimination from the World Cup in Russia, Messi was given an extended break by the ninth coach to take charge of the national team during Leo’s era.

The Barca forward missed six internationals in the process before returning for the Venezuela tie in what was a youthful Argentine side.

Venezuela opened the scoring through Salomon Rondon before Jhon Murillo doubled the money a few minutes later before half-time.

Inter Milan striker Lautaro Martinez pulled a goal back, but Josef Martinez added Venezuela’s third with a penalty to wrap up the encounter.

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 for the international friendly by manager Lionel Scaloni.

MADRID, SPAIN – MARCH 22: Lautaro Martinez of Argentina celebrates with Lionel Messi of Argentina after he scores his sides first goal during the International Friendly match between Argentina and Venezuela at Estadio Wanda Metropolitano on March 22, 2019, in Madrid, Spain. (Photo by Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno/Getty Images)

Watford’s Roberto Pereyra did play the final 12 minutes at Atletico Madrid’s Wanda Metropolitano Stadium but Juve’s Dybala was an unused substitute.

Despite losing to the Venezuelans, the Argentines would be working on improving their performance in subsequent games especially if they want to really challenge for the Copa America later this summer.