BUENOS AIRES, March 23 (Xinhua) -- Lionel Messi set up two goals and scored another as Argentina defeated Venezuela 3-0 to extend their lead at the top of the South American World Cup qualifying standings on Friday.
The Barcelona star's sublime one-touch pass set up Real Madrid striker Gonzalo Higuain in the 29th minute before the four-time Ballon d'Or winner converted a penalty on the stroke of half-time after a Gabriel Cichero handball.
Higuain made it 3-0 just before the hour when he slotted in after Messi's perfectly weighted through ball at the Estadio Monumental.
After the match Messi did not hide his delight at his improving on-field rapport with Higuain.
"We are understanding each other more and more," Messi said. "We have big hopes with this team but we are not getting ahead of ourselves because we still haven't won anything."
The victory lifts Argentina four points clear at the top of the Conmebol region standings with 23 points from 10 matches.
Earlier, Colombia rose to second spot after defeating Bolivia 5-0 in Barranquilla, Uruguay drew 1-1 with Paraguay in Montevideo while Peru defeated Chile 1-0 in Lima.