Lionel Messi scored a late penalty as Argentina drew 2-2 with Uruguay in a friendly held in Israel on Monday, with the Jewish state considering the match a victory.
The game pitted Messi against his Barcelona teammate Luis Suarez, and it looked as though the Uruguayan had gotten the better of him as he scored one goal and set up another to give his team a 2-1 lead going into injury time.
But a ball into the box was handled by a Uruguayan defender, and Messi calmly slotted the resulting penalty home to ensure an engaging friendly ended all square.
The 32-year-old had earlier teed up Manchester City striker Sergio Aguero to make it 1-1, after Edinson Cavani had opened the scoring.
Suarez scored a free-kick from outside the box to give his side the lead before Messi’s late intervention.
The game had been dubbed by organisers as an important moment for Israel, following the cancellation of another Argentina match a year earlier after pressure from pro-Palestinian campaigners.
On the pitch at times it felt like the Messi show, with the crowd chanting his name and every mazy run greeted by vociferous cheering.
While not at his electric best, he showed moments of quality — slaloming past defenders and forcing Uruguay goalkeeper Martin Campana into a number of smart saves.
The match comes after the cancellation of a pre-World Cup friendly fixture between Argentina and Israel in June 2018 after boycott calls.
That match had been due to be played in Jerusalem, sparking Palestinian anger and criticism of Argentina online.
Israel considers Jerusalem its “indivisible” capital, while Palestinians claim the eastern part of the city — occupied by Israel in 1967 and later annexed — as the capital of their future state.
Monday’s game was held in the Israeli commercial capital Tel Aviv.