In a CONMEBOL World Cup qualifying encounter, Argentina, the reigning World Cup champions, clashed with Paraguay at Más Monumental in Buenos Aires. The eagerly anticipated comeback of the local legend Lionel Messi saw him subbed in during the latter part of the match. Argentina clinched a convincing 1-0 triumph over Paraguay, as Nicolás Otamendi registered the early score merely three minutes into the contest.
From that juncture, Argentina asserted their supremacy, dominating the initial half and concluding the game with an astonishing 75% ball possession. Paraguay grappled to retain control and only executed one shot on target throughout the match.
In spite of several opportunities to amplify their advantage, Argentina couldn’t locate the back of the net. Lautaro Martínez came within reach in the 16th minute, but Paraguay’s netminder, Carlos Coronel, executed a crucial stop. Nicolás González also experienced a near miss in the 45th minute.
Lionel Messi entered the match prematurely in the latter part of the second half, initially declining the captain’s armband but ultimately embracing it with a grin. He initiated numerous close endeavours’ to find the net in the second half, including a corner kick that struck the upper left corner of the goal in the 76th minute, a thwarted attempt from beyond the penalty area, and a free kick that was deflected off the left post.
Argentina’s goalkeeper, Emiliano Martínez, delivered an outstanding performance, establishing a national team record with an unblemished 609 minutes in goal, having refrained from conceding a goal against the opposition since the World Cup final against France in December.
Argentina will continue their CONMEBOL World Cup qualifying journey with a fixture against Peru on October 17th.