Argentina breezes past Peru in World Cup qualifier

Argentina banked on strikes from Nicolas Gonzalez and Lautaro Martinez to beat Peru 2-0 and extend its unbeaten run to 11 games.

Lautaro Martinez

Lautaro Martinez celebrates after scoring in Argentina's 2-0 win over Peru on Tuesday.   -  Reuters

Argentina scored twice in the first half and was unfortunate not to score more in a dominant second as it comfortably beat Peru 2-0 in a World Cup qualifier in Lima on Tuesday.

Nicolas Gonzalez put the visitor ahead with an angled shot in 17 minutes following incisive work from Giovani Lo Celso on the left flank. Lautaro Martinez doubled the side's  lead 11 minutes later when he ran on to a superb pass from Leandro Paredes and rounded the 'keeper to slot home.

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“From the very start we played a great game, the goals came and we created lots of chances,” said captain Lionel Messi.

“Happy with the victory, we needed it after the game we played the other day,” he said in reference to Argentina's 1-1 draw at home to Paraguay last week.

“This is the path we have to keep on going down,” he added.

Argentina piled on the pressure after the break with goalkeeper Pedro Gallese denying Lucas Ocampos with a great block and Anderson Santamaria intervening in the box to stop Messi from adding a third on the counterattack.

The win extended Argentina's unbeaten run to 11 games and means it stays second in the 10-team South American qualifying group for Qatar 2022, two points behind leader Brazil.

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It also marked the first time since the year 2000 that the two-time world champion has won three consecutive away qualifiers.

Peru's defeat extended its winless run to seven matches under coach Ricardo Gareca, the Argentine who guided the nation to its first World Cup finals in 36 years last time around in Russia.

Argentina's next two qualifiers are in March, at home to Uruguay and away to Brazil, the only side in the group to have won all four of its matches so far.

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The top four teams in the 10-team South American group qualify automatically for Qatar 2022 and the fifth-placed side goes into an inter-regional playoff.

Earlier in the evening, Bolivia was denied its first win when Kaku scored with 18 minutes remaining to rescue a 2-2 draw for home side Paraguay in Asuncion.

Bolivia last qualified for the World Cup in 1994 and was 2-1 up at half time but had to settle for a point that still leaves it at the bottom of the group.

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