Paulo Bento’s unbeaten start to his Portugal reign had appeared under threat when Angel Di Maria applied a clinical finish after 14 minutes. The Real Madrid winger scored from a great pass from Messi, who had picked the ball up on the right wing before cutting inside and releasing an incisive pass.
Soon after, Messi was denied a goal for himself thanks to a superb Eduardo save, which appeared all the more important just seven minutes later when Ronaldo evened up the scores.
The Real Madrid forward, level with Messi atop the Spanish Liga scoring charts, reacted first to João Pereira’s deflected cross. The goal was Ronaldo’s 26th in 80 international appearances and his first in seven head-to-head matches against Messi for club and country.
Argentina substitute Javier Pastore struck the crossbar with an 86th-minute header off a cross from Messi as Argentina went in search of a late winner.
Two minutes later Messi scored the penalty after referee Massimo Busacca called Fabio Coentrao for a foul on Pastore. It was Messi’s 16th goal in 54 international appearances, his third in seven games against Ronaldo.