Messi, Argentina settle for draw
Argentina remained atop the South American World Cup qualifying standings after drawing 0-0 against Colombia on Friday in Buenos Aires.
Argentina improved to 25 points in 12 matches and Colombia has 20 in 11 games, good for second place.
Lionel Messi entered the game as a 57th minute substitute after missing the final three weeks of Barcelona's season with an injured right hamstring muscle.
When Argentina did have the ball in the net following good work from Sergio Aguero, the referee disallowed it for an offside against Messi.
"It is not a fair result," said Messi. "We deserved to win. I was not interfering with play on the goal that the referee disallowed by Kun Aguero. I believe we were superior and only the referee's mistake and the goalkeeper's performance stopped us from winning."
Argentina's Gonzalo Higuain and Cristian Zapata of Colombia were sent off on straight red cards in the 26th for getting into a tussle.
"We had lots of possession and they had chances to score," said Colombia goalkeeper David Ospina, describing an evenly played match.
Chile took sole possession of fourth place in the standings -- the final automatic qualifying place for Brazil 2014 -- by winning 2-1 at bottom team Paraguay while Venezuela is fifth after a 1-1 draw at Bolivia.
Venezuela let a victory get away in the thin air of La Paz.
Venezuela took a 1-0 lead through Juan Arango's goal in the 58th minute, but Bolivia's Jhasmany Campos hit the equalizer in the 86th
Despite the disappointment of conceding a late equalizer, the away point boosted Venezuela's chances of qualifying for next year's World Cup in Brazil, and ending its status as the only South American team never to have played in football's main event.
Peru's veteran forward Claudio Pizarro scored in the 12th minute and the home team held that advantage for the rest of the game to beat Ecuador.
Peru moved up to sixth in the standings, two points behind Venezuela in the race for the all-important fifth place.
Information from Press Association and The Associated Press was used in this report.