Lionel Messi‘s second-half goal gave Argentina a 1-0 home win over Ecuador on Thursday to get their 2026 World Cup qualifying campaign off on the right foot.
World champions Argentina were dominant in possession, but frustrated in attack as they struggled to make the breakthrough.
Captain Messi, however, continued the fine form he is showing with club side Inter Miami by scoring from a free kick in the 77th minute.
In other qualifiers, Paraguay drew 0-0 with Peru while Colombia claimed a 1-0 home win over Venezuela.
The first round of CONMEBOL qualifiers continues on Friday when Uruguay host Chile before Brazil take on Bolivia.
The South American federation plays an 18-game qualifying schedule, with six of 10 teams earning bids to the expanded 48-team World Cup in 2026 — hosted by the United States, Mexico and Canada.