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Di Maria scores, Messi returns in Argentina’s Copa America warm-up victory over Ecuador

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Angel Di Maria scored as Lionel Messi returned to the international stage for the first time in six months, helping Argentina to a 1-0 victory over Ecuador in a Copa America warmup match on Sunday.

Messi was sidelined for the first half before replacing Di Maria in the 56th minute. A right hamstring injury kept the eight-time Ballon d’Or winner and Inter Miami star from participating in Argentina’s previous two Copa America warmup matches against El Salvador and Costa Rica in March.

Di Maria scores against Ecuador to edge closer to Maradona, Zanetti before Copa America 2024

With Messi watching from the bench, Di Maria sent a reverse pass from Christian Romero into the net to open the scoring in the 40th minute.

Di Maria’s goal marked his second consecutive in an international match, also scoring against Costa Rica on March 26. With the 31st goal of his Argentina career, the 36-year-old midfielder is tied with Gonzalo Higuain for the fifth-most goals in the country’s history and sits just four scores behind Diego Maradona at No. 4 on the leaderboard.

Argentina — the reigning World Cup and Copa America champion — hasn’t fallen in its last seven meetings with Ecuador, a streak dating back to 2019.

Argentina vs Ecuador | As it Happened 

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Argentina: Lionel Scaloni’s squad will wrap up its pre-Copa America slate in Washington D.C. on Friday with a warmup match against Guatemala before opening its group stage of the tournament against Canada on June 20.

Ecuador: A pair of international friendly matches remain against Bolivia on Wednesday and Honduras on June 16 before opening the Copa America schedule against Venezuela on June 22.

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