RIO DE JANEIRO, Nov 21 (Reuters) Forwards Lionel Messi and Carlos Tevez were the hero and villain respectively during Argentina's 2-1 loss to Colombia in the World Cup qualifier in Bogota.
Messi slipped past three Colombia defenders to put Argentina ahead before halftime but Manchester United forward Tevez was sent off after 25 minutes and Colombia rallied in the second half to win the high-altitude match, last night.
''They are the two young symbols of the national team,'' said the Buenos Aires daily El Clarin. ''Lionel Messi and Carlos Tevez both had key roles in the night of the defeat. One made us laugh. The other made us cry.'' ''Messi, once more, was Argentina's high point and scored a Maradona-inspired goal. Tevez, going the other direction, was irresponsible.'' Tevez was dismissed for petulantly kicking Colombia full back Ruben Dario Bustos in an off-the-ball incident.
His team seemed less than impressed and he was ignored by coach Alfio Basile and the bench as he trudged back to the dressing-room.
With Hernan Crespo and Sergio Aguero also breathing down his neck, Tevez's temper could have cost him his place in the side.
Tevez, who has completed 10 matches without scoring since his goal in the Copa America match against United States in June, will automatically miss Argentina's next qualifier, at home to Ecuador in June.
If he gets a two-match suspension, he will be ruled out of the visit to Brazil the same month.
''Carlos is suffering a goal drought and doesn't appear comfortable with this system,'' said Clarin.
Tevez's dismissal didn't seem to matter as 12 minutes later, Messi stunned El Campin stadium with his eighth goal in 26 internationals.
The player known as The Flea nearly added a second five minutes after halftime, but his shot went narrowly wide and Colombia took full advantage.
Basile accepted the defeat which ended Argentina's 100 per cent record in the tournament.
''We played a very good first half,'' he said. ''But the only place where you can't afford to be left with 10 players is at altitude. We felt it in the second half.
''With 10 men, we played the way I like, playing the ball around, with triangulations. But we felt the difference of being a man short.'' REUTERS PDS AS1930