Argentina's Messi hails 'valuable' Paraguay victory

The captain rounded off a 3-1 win over the Guarani with an immaculate strike from distance, and also praised the atmosphere in Cordoba as the side pick up another victory
Argentina captain Lionel Messi expressed his delight with a comfortable victory over Paraguay that took his nation to the top of Conmebol's World Cup standings, while warning that they could not afford to rest on their laurels for the trip to Peru on Tuesday.
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The Barcelona star saw the woodwork twice thwart his attempts to hit the net during a 3-1 triumph in Cordoba's Estadio Mario Kempes, but he finally registered in the second half with a stunning free kick to guarantee victory. Angel Di Maria and Gonzalo Higuain also struck for the Albiceleste, who now lead Chile and Ecuador by one point in the race to Brazil 2014.

Speaking to reporters at the final whistle, Messi advised calm ahead of a potentially tricky visit to Lima, stating that the Inca would prove tough opposition.

"This triumph is very valuable, now we go to Peru who are a very difficult team to play against," Messi explained after the match.

"Leading the group is the least important aspect, the key is to keep gaining confidence as a group."

Messi also took the opportunity to thank the crowd in Cordoba, which was also the venue for Argentina's sole victory of the Copa America in 2011 over Costa Rica and where the fans were vocal in their praise for their star.

"This is a beautiful feeling," he admitted. "It is incredible when the fans give you so much affection. The same happened to me in the Copa America, in Cordoba and in Buenos Aires."

Messi has now scored nine goals in five international appearances during 2012, all of which have been won by Argentina.