Lionel Messi penalty salvages Copa América point for Argentina

Lionel Messi scored from the penalty spot to salvage a 1-1 draw for Argentina against Paraguay in the Copa América as his side rode their luck to cling on to hope of reaching the quarter-finals.

Richard Sánchez put Paraguay ahead in the 37th minute after a lung-bursting run from Miguel Almirón before Messi levelled in the 57th minute after a handball by Paraguay’s Iván Piris which no-one appealed for but was spotted by a VAR review.

Paraguay were awarded a spot-kick of their own a few minutes later but Derlis González’s shot was saved by Argentina keeper Franco Armani, who was lucky to avoid a red card when he fouled González outside his area at the end of the first half.

Argentina are still bottom of Group B with one point from two games but they could progress to the last eight with a win over third-placed Qatar in their final group game next Sunday.

Already-qualified Colombia lead the group on six points after beating Qatar 1-0 earlier on thanks to a late goal from Duvan Zapata, with Paraguay second on two.

Zapata rose with five minutes left to head home a floated cross from man of the match James Rodríguez and break the deadlock in a scrappy but end to end encounter at the Morumbi stadium.

Colombia were the better team in the first half, with Roger Martínez having a goal ruled out for offside after just five minutes and Rodríguez putting a free header wide eight minutes later.

Asian champions Qatar, one of the two non-South American teams invited, improved in the second period but just as the game looked destined to finish goalless, Zapata gave Colombia all three points.

The final games in the group take place on Sunday when Colombia face Paraguay and Qatar play Argentina.