Argentina 1-1 Paraguay: Lionel Messi denied a winning goal after VAR brings play back for a foul 27 SECONDS before his strike… but his side temporarily go top of World Cup qualifying in South America
- Argentina had fallen behind against Paraguay through Angel Romero’s penalty
- Nicolas Gonzalez hauled Argentina level just before half-time with a header
- Lionel Messi thought he’d got his side out of jail until VAR then had a say
Lionel Messi had a goal disallowed and another denied as Argentina were held to a 1-1 draw in South American World Cup qualifying.
Paraguay once more gave Argentina trouble, opening the scoring in the 21st minute via Angel Romero’s penalty. Argentina equalized in the 41st after substitute Giovani Lo Celso took a corner and found Nicolas Gonzalez free in the box to head it home.
Messi appeared to give Argentina a lead in the 57th, but a video reviewed decision by Brazilian referee Raphael Claus found a foul for Paraguay 27 seconds earlier when the ball was still in Argentina’s half.
It was a frustrating night for Argentina’s Lionel Messi, who saw a key goal harshly ruled out
Messi was mobbed by his Argentina team-mates after appearing to score in the second half
But his goal was ruled out because of a foul 27 seconds prior in the build-up play
Messi nearly scored from a free kick 14 minutes later, but Paraguayan goalkeeper Antony Silva made the save of the match in the top left corner.
Argentina coach Lionel Scaloni had to be creative for the match. Messi started with pain in his left ankle, and defender Nicolas Tagliafico had to be replaced by Gonzalez, who usually plays as a striker at Stuttgart.
‘I was not surprised because I played like this in Germany,’ Gonzalez said. ‘We all know what my position is, but I want to help this team as much as I can.’
Scaloni lost midfielder Exequiel Palacios after only 30 minutes to a back injury sustained in in collision with Paraguayan Angel Romero’s knee.
Palacios’ replacement Lo Celso ended as one of the best on the pitch, but Argentina’s coach believes Romero could have been sent off if there had been a VAR decision. Scaloni also said Palacios could be sidelined for months because of the injury.
‘There’s a lot of plays in which (VAR) could have been used today and it wasn’t. I am not talking about bad or good intentions,’ Scaloni said, adding Argentina’s disallowed goal should not have been canceled. ‘No one likes soccer like this.’
Giovani Lo Celso produced an impressive display for Argentina from the bench
Argentina also threw on PSG’s Angel Di Maria to find a winner but it was to no avail
It was a frustrating night for boss Lionel Scaloni even if Argentina moved top of their group
Angel Di Maria, who was initially expected to start, entered in the second half but was unable to produce a goal for Argentina’s much-needed home win.
The draw at La Bombonera stadium puts Argentina on the top of the standings with seven points from three matches, but Brazil – on six – could move ahead with a home win over 9th-place Venezuela on Friday. Paraguay are fourth with five points.
Argentina’s fourth match in qualifying will be against Peru on Tuesday, when Paraguay hosts Bolivia and Ecuador is at home to Colombia.