WC Qualifiers: Late goal gives Argentina 2-1 win over Bolivia

Argentina maintains its 100 percent record in the South American World Cup qualifiers with its defeat of Bolivia in La Paz.

Argentina celebrates after scoring its second goal, in La Paz on Tuesday. - REUTERS

A late goal from Joaquin Correa helped Argentina come from behind to beat Bolivia 2-1 on Tuesday and maintain its 100 percent record in the South American World Cup qualifiers.

Bolivia took the lead after 24 minutes when captain Marcelo Martins rose unmarked to head home a cross from the left. However, Argentina, which beat visitor Ecuador 1-0 in its opener last week, equalised seconds before halftime when a clearance from defender Jose Maria Carrasco hit Lautaro Martinez just yards from goal and flew into the net.

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Correa then got Argentina’s winner with a sweet left-foot strike 11 minutes from the final whistle as Bolivia suffered another defeat following its 5-0 thrashing away to Brazil last week.

The result was Argentina’s ninth game unbeaten under coach Lionel Scaloni and its first win in Bolivia since 2005.

Thin air

It came in spite of its evident troubles with the thin air, with the game being played at high altitude in La Paz, and some of its players took gulps of oxygen at the side of the pitch during a busy second half in which they dominated their rivals.

Martinez could have had a hat-trick but scooped one chance over the bar and had another well saved by the Bolivian keeper. “We knew what this game meant to us because of its history,” the Inter Milan striker said. “We're not going to deny that it's difficult to play here.”

“I think this team showed lots of heart and lots of brains. We're very happy.”

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Lionel Messi was another outstanding performer for the visitor, although the Barcelona forward played a deeper role than usual and was more of a creator than taker of chances. The result was a disappointment for Bolivia, which was attempting to record back-to-back wins over Argentina for the first time in its history.

Bolivia has started the qualifiers for the 2022 tournament with two consecutive losses.

Its next two opponents in November’s double header of matches are Ecuador and Paraguay, while Argentina will face Paraguay at home before traveling to Peru.

Ecuador beats Uruguay

In Ecuador, the home side recovered from that opening day loss to Argentina to hammer Uruguay 4-2.

Ecuador's Michael Estrada (left) celebrates with team-mate Mario Pineida after scoring his side's second goal against Uruguay. - AP

 

Moises Caicedo put it ahead after 13 minutes and then Michael Estrada got a goal each side of half time to put it firmly in the driving seat before Gonzalo Plata made it four with a quarter of an hour remaining.

Luis Suarez got two goals back for Uruguay in the dying minutes, both of them from the penalty spot, to put a more respective sheen on the scoreline.

Nevertheless, it was Uruguay’s first defeat over 90 minutes since going down 1-0 to world champions France in a November 2018 friendly, a run that extends back 15 games.

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

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