Argentina have dropped points for the first time in the South American World Cup Qualifiers thanks to a 1-1 draw at home against Paraguay, with goals from Ángel Romero and Nicolás González. The Albiceleste played a bad first half but looked good in the second, and Lionel Messi scored the winner only to see the goal disallowed by video review. Other than that, the captain had to deal with a frustrating man-marking strategy all night but still managed to be dangerous and almost led his team to a win.
Paraguay were very sharp to start the game, moving the ball quickly into the final third and always looking for Miguel Almirón to create danger on the left side. Almirón couldn’t really threaten until he made an amazing run through the defense and earned a penalty, which Ángel Romero scored with ease.
Argentina couldn’t get into the game until they conceded, and although they raised their level a bit in the final 20 minutes they couldn’t create anything against a well-organized Paraguay defense. Messi was man-marked by a combination of Villasanti and Cardozo and had to retreat deep into midfield to have any chance of touching the ball, and from there he would try to orchestrate.
The Albiceleste were really struggling to create any meaningful chances, but Nicolás González scored a big header from a Lo Celso corner to equalize right before halftime and give his team a chance to calm down and come back from the dressin room with a better attacking strategy.
Argentina came back much better for the second half, attacking with more intensity and pressing higher to stop Paraguay from having any joy on the counter. They also took the lead when Lo Celso found Messi inside the box for a huge goal, but after a lengthy VAR review Messi’s goal was taken away thanks to a foul in the buildup.
Paraguay were under immense pressure and could no longer create any danger on the counter, and put 10 men behind the ball to try and keep the same score and escape with a draw. Argentina certainly tried but just couldn’t find spaces, and the best chance came on a wonderful free-kick by Messi that was deflected onto the bar by Anthony Silva.
As we reached stoppage time the game looked destined for a draw, and that’s what we got with the final whistle. Argentina played a good second half and created enough to win, but a VAR decision denied them three points.
Argentina: Armani; Montiel, M. Quarta, Otamendi, González; De Paul (Alario 83’), Paredes, Palacios (Lo Celso 29’), Ocampos (Di María 60’); Messi, Lautaro (Domínguez 83’)
Goal: González (41’)
Paraguay: Silva; Rojas, Balbuena, Gómez, Alsono; Cardozo, Villasanti (Moreal 74’), Giménez (Rojas 86’); Romero (Sanabria 86’), Lezcano (Pérez 74’), Almirón (Alderete 90’+2)
Goal: Romero (21’ pen.)