Argentina World Cup Hopes In The Balance After Draw To Venezuela
Argentina FIFA World Cup Hopes In The Balance After Draw To Venezuela
Jorge Sampaoli's Argentina dropped crucial points in their 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifier against Venezuela on Wednesday morning, despite Lionel Messi being at the top of his game.
The home nation got off to a promising start in Buenos Aires, with Mauro Icardi finding himself through on goal just five minutes into the clash. Mascherano's defence-splitting pass caught Venezuela off-guard, but goalkeeper Wuilker Farinez was equal to the Inter Milan forward's effort.
Two minutes later, Paulo Dybala had a shot denied from close range, with 19-year-old Farinez again showing why he is his country's first choice shot-stopper.
Venezuela were finding it difficult to deal with Messi, whose dink over the top found Angel Di Maria in the 13th minute, and the Paris Saint-Germain then lashed the ball across goal, with Icardi just inches away from giving Argentina the lead.
Farinez pulled off another fantastic save 22 minutes into the clash, again to deny Juventus forward Dybala from close range. The teams went into half-time scoreless, despite the Albiceleste keeping the Venezuelans pinned in their own half.
Despite Sampaoli's men starting the second half confidently, the away side shocked the stadium in the 50th minute through 21-year-old winger Jhon Murillo, who scored from a counter-attack.
Argentina found the equaliser just four minutes after the breakthrough, when defender Mikel Villanueva helplessly turning Marcos Acuna's cross into his own net.
The home team were then arguably denied a spot-kick in the 60th minute, after Icardi appeared to be tripped in Venezuela's box. The referee was quick to wave away protests, however, much to Argentina's despair.
Despite having most of the possession, Argentina were unable to find the winner in the final 30 minutes of the match. With just two more qualifiers to be played, Messi and his troops' World Cup hopes for next year are still uncertain.
Paraguay 1-2 Uruguay
South American qualifying table overview:
1. Brazil – 37 points
2. Uruguay – 27 points
3. Colombia – 26 points
4. Peru – 24 points
5. Argentina – 24 points
6. Chile – 23 points
7. Paraguay – 21 points
8. Ecuador – 20 points
9. Bolivia – 13 points
10. Venezuela – 8 points
*All teams equal on matches played.