Football: Messi scare as Argentina down Honduras

Argentina's Gonzalo Higuain (L) and Lionel Messi celebrate after teammate Gabriel Mercado scored against Bolivia during their Russia 2018 FIFA World Cup South American Qualifiers' football match in Cordoba, Argentina, on March 29, 2016.

SAN JUAN, Argentina - Lionel Messi suffered an injury scare on Friday as Argentina defeated Honduras 1-0 in their only warm-up game before next month's Copa America Centenario in the United States.

A first-half goal from in-form Napoli striker Gonzalo Higuain settled a low-key encounter in San Juan, with two-time world champions Argentina dominating possession and shots.

But the result was overshadowed by an alarming incident involving Messi midway through the second half that forced the Barcelona superstar to leave the field clutching his lower back in pain.

The five-time FIFA World Player of the Year appeared to be hurt after a heavy aerial collision with Honduras substitute Carlos Discua in the 59th minute.

Messi grimaced and rubbed his lower back after the challenge and required treatment on the field for several minutes before being swiftly substituted for Ever Banega.

There was no immediate word on Messi's condition following the game, which falls just over a week before Argentina open their Copa America Centenario campaign against Chile in Santa Clara on June 6.

The 28-year-old Argentina captain missed two months of last season's club campaign for Barcelona after suffering a serious knee injury in September.

Earlier, Higuain's goal in the 31st minute had settled the encounter for the hosts.

The striker produced a sublime Cruyff turn to wrongfoot defender Maynor Figueroa before lifting a delicate finish over goalkeeper Donis Escober.

Argentina had earlier threatened the Honduras goal when Messi played in Angel Di Maria only for the Paris Saint-Germain forward to shoot over the bar.

Manchester City defender Nicolas Otamendi also went close on 28 minutes, volleying just wide from Di Maria's corner.

Higuain fired the Argentines ahead just after the half hour, and only a fine close-range save from Escober prevented Manchester United defender Marcos Rojo from making it 2-0 on 39 minutes, his shot from Erik Lamela's pass parried away at the near post.

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