Argentina's World Cup hopes hang in balance after draw with Peru

07 October, 2017, 00:53 | Author: Anita Tucker
  • Pic Reuters

Lionel Messi's Argentina's World Cup hopes took a massive hit on Thursday after a shocking 0-0 draw against Peru in the presence of capacity crowd on home soil in Buenos Aires.

Peru, who last competed at a World Cup in 1982, held Argentina to a 2-2 draw in Lima one year ago. In the 10-team South American group, only the top four teams qualify automatically, with the fifth-placed side going into a playoff against the Oceania champions.

In the final round of matches on Tuesday, Uruguay face Bolivia, Peru host Colombia, Ecuador are at home against Argentina, Chile visit Brazil and Paraguay meet Venezuela.

Despite the 0-0 draw, one more round of qualifying fixtures remain, and Argentina will need to beat Ecuador in the thin air of Quito in the Andes if they are to have any hopes of boarding the plane to Russian Federation. Chile are third with Colombia fourth.

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"The team is furious, but when we win in Ecuador, we go to world Championship", said national coach Jorge Sampaoli defiantly.

The visitors appeared to have secured a point in the 84th through Romario Ibarra Mina, but Alexis Sanchez rescued the three points seconds later with a simple finish after Ecuador keeper Maximo Banguera palmed Felipe Gutierrez's shot directly into the Arsenal man's path.

Messi was held in check in a Barcelona win last week as Girona made a decision to man-mark him, but Peru's Gareca said he will not be giving special treatment to Argentina's captain. Argentina's last World Cup qualifying win in Quito came in 2001.

Argentina travel to eighth-placed Ecuador on the final day, for what is a hard road trip, while Paraguay technically have the easiest task, playing bottom of the table Venezuela at home.

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Similarly, Ricciardo managed to overtake Valtteri Bottas early on and held onto his position for the entirety of the race. It was Hamilton's fourth straight podium in Malaysia, fifth overall and seemingly one of the toughest.

In a cosmic turn of events, Gareca is involved yet again in a crucial Argentina-Peru match, only now, he's coaching Los Incas against his struggling homeland's side.

In other words, outside of Brazil, everything remains wide open in South America heading into the final matchday of World Cup qualifying.

And it's that defense that will now have to contend with Argentina's ridiculous talent in attack, centered as always around the incomparable Lionel Messi.

That game ended in a 2-2 draw with Argentina qualifying for Mexico 1986, while Peru went to the playoffs, where they lost to Chile.

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The Spanish giants will be keen to stretch their lead at the top by collecting three points when they face Las Palmas at Camp Nou on Sunday.

If Argentina draw, things get even more complicated.

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