Argentina 1-1 Chile
Argentina are undefeated in the World Cup 2022 qualifiers despite being held by an aggressive Chile squad last Thursday evening at the Santiago del Estero.
Before the match, the hosts paid tribute to the late Diego Maradona as they unveiled their new statue of him outside the stadium. Yesterday was also Argentina’s first competitive game since November 2020.
After a converted penalty by Lionel Messi to give La Albiceleste the lead midway in the first half, La Roja quickly answered back with a beautiful equaliser by Alexis Sanchez to share the spoils.
However, even with Chile’s solid outing, the draw didn’t have much of an effect on the CONMEBOL standings which is unfavourable for their World Cup 2022 odds.
Argentina are still at the second spot with 11 points, while Chile remain at the bottom half – placing seventh with only five points.
It can be noted that the top four teams automatically qualify for Qatar while the fifth-placed side goes into an intercontinental playoff, making these last few qualifying games a must-win for the trailing teams like Chile.
Here at SBOTOP, we recap what happened by taking a look at last night’s set of World Cup 2022 highlights.
Highlights of the game
Argentina and Chile appeared to be rusty early on and it took them a while to get acclimated into the match.
Chile entered the game with a bigger sense or urgency since they are in a precarious position and that showed in their work rate as they were relentless in their press against the Argentineans.
Martin Lasarte’s plan was for his players to be ultra-physical against Lionel Messi and the Barca talisman was knocked down so many times in the first few minutes.
And when an opportunity presented itself, Chile tried to make the most out of it as evidenced by Eduardo Vargas’ 27-yard shot during the 15th minute that went too wide on the left side.
Argentina broke down Chile’s wall slowly but surely and they would finally get their breakthrough moment at the 20th minute when Lautaro Martinez drew a penalty after a clumsy challenge by Guillermo Maripan.
Of course, Lionel Messi was called to take the penalty and the 33-year-old calmly slid the ball to the bottom corner past Claudio Bravo.
Down by one goal, it was Chile’s turn to be aggressive on the attack and they were able to score the equaliser 15 minutes later.
Jean Meneses drew a foul as Argentina couldn’t get the ball out of his feet which led to a free-kick that found its way to Gary Medel, who tipped the ball to a cutting Alexis Sanchez for a solid finish.
Lionel Messi almost reclaimed the lead for La Albiceleste just before the end of the first half after he was knocked down again, but his spot-kick was saved nicely by Claudio Bravo.
With Messi being marked, Argentina tried to search for other options but to no avail.
Angel Di Maria and Lautaro Martinez each took their turns in the second half, but their attempts were thwarted by the Chilean backline.
It wasn’t until the final 15 minutes that Lionel Messi was able to regain his rhythm, but Claudio Bravo was there to deny him again in multiple occasions.
Shot attempts came plenty for both Argentina and Chile. But in the end, La Albiceleste were left to rue their missed opportunities. Lionel Scaloni’s men had 16 total shots with seven of them on target while the Chileans have only seven total and one on target.
Last night’s draw meant that Argentina are still stronger at home when facing Chile since they are now unbeaten in 35 games. All in all, La Albiceleste are now 12 matches without defeat since losing to Brazil in the 2019 Copa America semis.
There will be a few more World Cup 2022 qualifying matches to be played for both Argentina and Chile.
Argentina will face a tough squad in Colombia next week, while Chile are put in a do-or-die situation when they take on Bolivia on Wednesday.
There’s not much pressure for La Albiceleste since they are likely to seal their berth for Qatar next year, but expect Lionel Scaloni to continue to whip his boys into shape.
Meanwhile, if Chile couldn’t muster a victory against Bolivia, then they are about to say goodbye to their hopes of making it to next year.