Qualifying Stage

Uruguay and Argentina play to goalless draw in Montevideo

Luis Suarez, left, and Lionel Messi show their support for their countries' proposed bid to host the 2030 World Cup. AP Images

Argentina were unable wrest a top-four berth away from Uruguay in the CONMEBOL World Cup qualifying section after being held to a goalless draw in Montevideo.

The Albiceleste remain fifth in the standings, a point behind third-placed Uruguay -- who are now without a win in six games -- after the stalemate at the Estadio Centenario

Only the top four sides qualify automatically for next year's World Cup in Russia, with the fifth-placed team entering a two-legged playoff against the winner of the Oceania region.

Lionel Messi captained Argentina in a match which saw his Barcelona teammate Luis Suarez start for Uruguay after overcoming a knee injury which had seen him miss the start of the Spanish league season.

Neither of the two South American superstars could inspire their countries to victory, although Messi came close on more than one occasion.

The 30-year-old almost broke the deadlock just before half-time when he found himself with a shooting chance on the edge of the box after a neat one-two with Paulo Dybala.

However, Messi was unable to beat Uruguay goalkeeper Fernando Muslera, who parried his shot away from goal.

Messi also tested Muslera during the second half with a 30-yard free kick, but once again the home custodian was equal to it as he dived to his left to turn the shot behind for a corner.

Lucas Biglia also went close for the visitors while Suarez -- who limped out of the action late on with what appeared to be a calf problem -- saw an audacious long-range lob flick the roof of the net as it went over.

Suarez's strike partner Edinson Cavani had arguably Uruguay's best openings but he was unable to take advantage of two good chances in quick succession during the first half.

But overall clear-cut chances from either side were largely in short supply as the local rivals shared the spoils.