Lionel Messi returns to field as Argentina win over Ecuador by 1-0

Angel Di Maria was in full swing before being replaced by Inter Miami forward Lionel Messi on the 56th minute

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Lionel Messi (R) fights for the ball with Ecuador's midfielder Joao Ortiz during the international friendly football match at Solider Field in Chicago, Illinois, on June 9, 2024. — AFP

Argentine international Lionel Messi has returned to play for his country in Copa America’s warm up match against Educator at Soldier Field in Chicago where Angel Di Maria crusied his team to victory on Sunday.

Argentina won by 1-0 after Di Maria netted one goal in the final phase of the first half.

The 36-year-old was in full swing before being replaced by Inter Miami forward Messi on the 56th minute.

Argentina coach Lionel Scaloni was quoted by ESPN: "With Leo [Messi], there is no need to risk him. Not just with him, but others like [Nicolas] Otamendi didn't play. Angel [Di María] only played some minutes, Julian [Alvarez] and Lautaro [Martinez] the same.”

Argentina's forward Angel Di Maria (L) fights for the ball with Ecuador's defender Piero Hincapie during the international friendly football match at Solider Field in Chicago, Illinois, on June 9, 2024. — AFP

The eight-time Ballon d'Or winner suffered an injury in his right hamstring which kept him away from from participating in Argentina's previous two Copa América warmups against El Salvador and Costa Rica in March.

The coach said: "We want to take care of these players, and allow them to arrive in their best possible conditions to the tournament".

While speaking with TyC Sports, Angel Di Maria stated: "We know Copa America will be complicated, you could see it today in the game. Players get into it, and there will be difficult games. I think today was a good game to demonstrate how we are. I think we're on a good path."

It was for the second time consecutively that Di María's scored during his international game after Costa Rica on March 26. It was also his 31st goal for Argentina.