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The Barcelona forward admits that a stalemate was not the ideal result on Tuesday but feels it brings the national side closer to qualifying for next year’s World Cup

Lionel Messi believes Argentina’s 1-1 draw with Ecuador on Wednesday has moved the Albiceleste closer to World Cup 2014 qualification.

Sergio Aguero’s opener was cancelled out by a Segundo Castillo equaliser and the Barcelona forward, who came on as a replacement for Aguero for the last half hour, is confident the point could prove to be a vital one.

“We failed to take profit from free space in the first half, but we are close to the qualification. That is what matters,” Messi told Channel 7.

“We had what it takes to win the game, but we are getting used to draws. We scored the first goal very quickly. To play here is very tough. Then they equalised.”

Aguero also revealed the difficulty of playing at an altitude of 2,800m above sea level.

“I found it hard to breathe very quickly, but finished fine,” Aguero added.

“We suffered quite a lot. I thought playing at this altitude would be more difficult. The Ecuadorians are physically strong and are very tough to beat here.”

Javier Mascherano was sent off in the game for kicking out at the driver of a medical buggy.

The draw leaves Alejandro Sabella’s side top of their group, but Colombia’s victory over Peru means that their lead is cut to two points.

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