Barcelona superstar Lionel Messi literally tried everything to give Argentina a win in their World Cup Qualifier against Peru on Thursday night, but a wasteful Albiceleste missed some unbelievable chances, finished with a 0-0 draw at home and are now in serious, serious danger of missing out on the World Cup. Crazy stuff.
The theme of the first half was one: Argentina with the ball, trying to find Lionel Messi, and Messi trying to break down a very good Peru defense with passes and shots. Without help from Ángel Di María and Papu Gómez, who were really quiet for most of the half, Messi had to try and create for himself, and because he’s Messi he was able to do it. Twice.
In the first chance, Messi received a pass from Lucas Biglia, got away from his marker with a great skill, moved the ball to his left foot and unleashed a great shot that somehow went just wide. In the second opportunity, Leo played a sensational cross to the head of Darío Benedetto, but the striker’s header went just over the bar.
At halftime, Messi needed some help and Argentina needed to find a goal as soon as possible in the second half. The tension was rising.
The Albiceleste started the final period with an urgency and intensity not seen in the first half, and inside the first minute Messi hit the post and Lucas Biglia forced a spectacular save out of Pedro Gallese with a long shot. Argentina looked hungry, sharp and ready to score their first goal, but they kept missing unbelievable chances that Messi continued to create for his teammates, and the pressure got bigger and bigger.
Desperation and frustration kicked in as we got closer to the end, and Argentina lost all clarity. They couldn’t do anything to trouble the goalkeeper in the final 20 minutes, and the draw means Argentina have to win and count on other results to qualify.
Argentina: Romero; Mercado, Otamendi, Mascherano, Acuña; Biglia, Banega (Gago (Pérez)); Di María (Rigoni), Messi, Gómez; Benedetto
Peru: Gallese; Corzo, Araujo, Rodríguez, Trauco; Peña (Cartagena), Tapia (Aquino), Yotún; Farfán (Polo), Guerrero, Flores