Frustrated Argentina have to settle for draw against Paraguay
Argentina 1-1 Paraguay
Argentina only have themselves to blame for taking so long to find their rhythm with the introduction of Lo Celso very much a key detonator in kick-starting their game. A good point for Berizzo's side as both sides remain unbeaten in the WC 2022 qualifying campaign.
Next up: Peru-Argentina and Paraguay-Bolivia (next week)
FT. The whistle sounds at La Bombonera with honours shared between Argentina and Paraguay.
Last chance saloon for Scaloni's side as they win a free kick ..quickly taken and the move breaks down.
Messi rifles the free kick into the wall and one senses that time has passed Argentina by. Why oh why did it take 40 minutes before Scaloni's men decided to play ?
Change for PAR: Almiron off and Alderete takes his place.
Almiron carded for dissent.
Messi fouled in an area that is perfect for his left foot. 5 minutes of time to be added as the Barcelona striker lines up the ball.
The shift Miguel Almiron has put in this evening is nothing short of excellent. A threat for Argentina when going forward but not afraid to track back and help out in defensive duties. Player of the night for La Albirroja.
A point for Paraguay at La Bombonera is an excellent result for La Albirroja but Argentina will be disappointed should the result stay like this and see it very much as 2 points dropped.
Angel Di Maria tries his luck from long range but his shot drifts wide.
De Paul subbed for Dominguez (ARG)
Lautaro makes way for Alario
Next up for tonight's teams: Argentina face Peru with Paraguay facing struggling Bolivia.
Armani fists away for a corner and this time the River Plate keeper gathers.
Danger for the home side after a great run from Almiron ....what can the visitors conjure up here ?
Montiel carded for a hack on Almiron
Perez carded for a late challenge
15 left at La Bombonera. Paraguay hanging on, Argentina pressing.
Elcano and Villasanti off for Perez and Morel (Paraguay changes)
Argentina pressing now. A 1-1 draw at home would be considered as a disapointing resulkt for the home side.
Messi strikes and strikes the cross bar after a fine save from Silva
The latest possession stats convey exactly what is happening at La Bombonera. Argentina now probing for a second goal as Lo Celso is fouled with the incident perfect for a Messi free kick.
Lautaro swivels and fires on goal but the ball is easy for Silva to gather.
Paraguay are now totally on the back foot with Argentina dominating the action and the dynamic of this game has been totally inverted. The 'Albirroja' unable to retain possession and Armani has been a spectator in this second half.
Actually, on a second look, it was clear that Gonzalez did foul Romero in the build-up to the goal so well done to the match officials and VAR team for getting that decision spot on.
Giovani lo Celso has been immense since coming on.
Di Maria on for Ocampos
So, as we were, 1-1 on the score board. A little harsh on Argentina I'd say.
Scaloni goes mad on the touchline and indeed, the goal is ruled out for a foul on a Paraguay player in the build-up.
It appears that the goal will be ruled out.
Gonzalez tees up the Barcelona captain who strokes the ball left footed past the Paraguay stopper.
Goooooooooool. Messi fires the home side ahead.
Di Maria set to make an entrance with the PSG man back in the Argentina squad after 'issues' with coach Scaloni.
Paraguay appeal for handball after Otamendi appears to handle. Ref consulting his assistants as VAR reviews the action....No spot kick the final decision.
Argentina very much playing with a spark that they lacked for a bulk of the first half. More intensity from the men in sky and white with Lautaro and Messi getting in on the action now.
Lautaro (subsequently offside) breaks free and misses a sitter and his blushes are saved by the whistle.
Lautaro breaks into the Paraguay box and lifts the ball over the keeper but wide of the goal mouth.
Messi to float the ball into the Paraguay box. Decent ball from the Barcelona striker but cleared by Almiron. Argentina picking up where the left off before the break in dominating the action.
Cardozo carded for an elbow on goal scorer Gonzalez who has been impressive tonight.
Off we go....the Paraguayan side start the second half action.
The sides return to the pitch at La Bombonera. Former Celta & Sevilla manager Berizzo will be the happier of the head coaches at the interval with plenty of work ahead for Scaloni and his 'Albiceleste' side.
Such is the game of football. Totally outclassed and unable to find their rhythm, one lapsus in the Paraguay defense to let Gonzalez head level has the home side tying a game when they barely deserve to do so. It has been another grey performance from a Scaloni side with the great individual talent on the pitch unable to combine as a unit.
HT in Buenos Aires and all level
Lo Celo's introduction and the goal seem to have been key factors in charging this Argentina side into life. The 'Albiceleste' very much on top now as the half comes to a close.
We'll have 3 minutes of time added on.
De Paul carded for a rash challenge on Romero
De Paul forces a fine save from the Paraguay stopper as Argentine finally waken from their slumber.
A goal for the home side very much against the run of play and, to be fair, far from what the home side deserve
Goooooooooool. Gonzalez nod home for Argentina.
Paraguay's pressing level is hugely admirable and making life difficult for the home side. High tempo and energy sapping levels being displayed by Berizzo's team.
Silva in the Paraguay goal has been a virtual spectator tonight but he now has to face a long range free kick for Argentina. Messi drives the ball into the wall as Scaloni's men attempt to find a way past the red and white wall.
South Africa in 2010 was the last time when Paraguay qualified for a World Cup with the 'Albirrojo' missing out on Brazil 14 and Russia in 2018.
Romero celebrates his spot kick which currently separates the teams.
De Paul has a long range effort with the Albiceleste unable to pick their way through the Paraguay rear-guard. High and wide from the Udinese man.
Romero carded for the challenge on Palacios who will play no further role in the game. Lo Celso set to replace the injured man.
Into the final 15 of the half and Paraguay good value for their lead.
Palacios is now on his feet and limps off for medical attention
Angel Romero seemed to knee the Argentine player in the back and Palacios looks to be in serious trouble.
Palacios seems to be in trouble as he holds his back after a collision. Game held up as the Leverkusen man is attended to.
Argentina have really struggled in the opening minutes of tonight's game. Nothing from the front three with Messi somewhat discreet so far.
Almiron back on the pitch but not looking great after the challenge which led to the penalty.
Romero steps up.... right footed and calmly slots home ......gooooooooooool
Romero to take for the visitors.
No debate re. the decision. Great run from the Newcastle United man and a clumsy challnge from the Argentine defender
Penalty for Paraguay after Martinez Quarta fouls Almiron
Little work for either keeper so far tonight with all the action in the central area of the pitch.
Argentina now dominating possession-wise as we edge towards the 20 minute mark
Danger for the visitors as Gonzalez zips in a dangerous ball which Paraguay eventually manage to clear.
Little from Messi so far tonight. In the Bolivia game it did take a while for the Ocampos, Messi and Lautaro trio to gel together and create danger.
Miguel Almiron is everywhere tonight, at the heart of all attacks for the side in red and white and helping out in defensive duties too.
Better now from Argentina as Ocampos breaks into the opposition area and Scaloni's side looking more comfortable with the surroundings.
Gaston Gimenez tries his luck from long range but Armani untroubled by the effort.
The playing surface at the home to Boca Juniors looks in immaculate condition this evening. As good as I've seen it look for quite some time.
Very confident start from the visitors here in Buenos Aires with all the play so far in the Argentine half.
Paraguay's Gustavo Gomez appeals for handball but the Brazilian referee waves the appeal away.
An early corner for Paraguay after some neat play on the left flank.
Off we go at La Bombonera as Argentina start the action.
All set in Buenos Aires, matchday three of the CONMEBOL World Cup 2022 is about to start after a minute's silence for the victims of Covid-19.
... and then the national anthem of the home side, Argentina. Serious levels of concentration on the faces of the home side and those Adidas Argentina track tops are rather smart I have to admit.
A Brazilian match official tonight with Mr. Raphael Claus set to oversee the action. National anthem time ... first up, Paraguay
The players line up in the tunnel at an eerily empty La Bombonera. Smiles from the visitors as Paraguay boss 'Toto' Berizzo and Lionel Scaloni embrace ahead of the game.
Messi set to earn his 141st cap for the 'Albiceleste' tonight.
Prediction time: I was impressed with Argentina's second half performance away to Bolivia but at times (especially in the first half) they lacked a creative spark. Paraguay are growing under Berizzo and expect a close fought contest tonight.
Argentina 1-1 Paraguay
Last minute instruction for the Paraguayan side with the start just over 10 minutes off.
La Bombonera tonight lies empty with no fans in attendance due to the ongoing serious nature of the covid-19 situation in Argentina. A sad sight it has to be said, but understandable given the current climate.
Team colours: Argentine will be in their iconic sky blue and white stripes, white shorts with the visitors in red/white stripes and blue shorts
A mild evening in the Argentine capital with a temp of 20C/71F and just a 2% chance of rain during the action.
Speaking ahead of the Buenos Aires clash, Paraguay boss Eduadro Berizzo claimed: "We need to be valiant to win, decisive with the ball in attack and remain solid in defense". The former Celta Vigo manager also hinted that Junior Alonso is expected to replace the injured Blas Riveros. (which is indeed the case)
Two River Plate players starting for Scaloni tonight with keeper Armani and defender Montiel.
- 1 Franco Armani
- 2 Lucas Martínez Quarta
- 4 Montiel
- 19 Otamendi
- 5 Paredes
- 21 Nicolás González
- 8 Exequiel Palacios
- 15 De Paul
- 22 Lautaro Martínez
- 10 Messi
- 18 Lucas Ocampos
Two Premier League stars (Balbuena and Almiron) starting for the 'Albirroja' tonight
- 1 Antony Silva
- 2 Robert Rojas
- 4 Fabián Balbuena
- 6 Junior Alonso
- 15 Gustavo Gómez
- 23 Mathias Villasanti
- 5 Gastón Giménez
- 16 Ángel Cardozo
- 10 Miguel Ángel Almirón
- 11 Ángel Romero
- 19 Darío Lezcano
Argentina, with two wins from two, currently hold third place in the group with Paraguay also unbeaten in fifth place.
CONFIRMED: Argentina start with: Armani, Otamendi, Martínez Quarta, Montiel, Palacios, Paredes, De Paul, González, Ocampos, Messi & Lautaro
Not 100% confirmed, but this is the expected ARG XI for tonight's game:Armani; Montiel, Martínez Quarta, Otamendi, Lisandro Martínez or Medina; De Paul, Paredes, Palacios; Messi, Ocampos & Martínez.
Messi expected to start:
It had been reported an ankle issue could keep Lionel Messi out of Argentina's clash with Paraguay, but Lionel Scaloni says the Barcelona star is "fit and available".
Tonight's game will be staged at La Bombonera (home to Boca Juniors) in the Argentine capital but with no fans in attendance as a sanitary measure with cases of covid-19 still rising in the Argentine republic.
Hello and a very warm welcome to our live coverage of Argentina vs Paraguay with the CONMEBOL World Cup qualifying game starting at 2100 (local time in Buenos Aires) / 01:00 CET.