Copa America: Argentina held to 1-1 draw by Paraguay

Argentina’s poor run in the Copa America as it took a penalty from their talisman Lionel Messi to manage a draw against Paraguay at Belo Horizonte. Following a 2-0 defeat in their opener against Colombia, Argentina were eager to beat Paraguay. Argentina manager Lionel Scaloni made four changes to his squad with Milton Casco, Roberto Pereyra, Rodrigo de Paul and Lautaro Martinez coming in.

Argentina were far from having the kind of fiery start their fans expected them to have as they did not have a shot on target until the 34th minute. Paraguay had the first scoring opportunity of the match in the 28th minute but Derliz Gonzalez’s shot went just wide of the far post after a deflection off Nicolas Tagliafico.

In the 37th minute, a pass from Miguel Almiron found Richard Sanchez who shot past Armani to give Paraguay the lead. Later, Argentina goalkeeper Franco Armani received a yellow card.

Early in the second half, Argentina had a fine scoring opportunity when Sergio Aguero’s cross found Lautaro Martinez. However, the Inter Milan striker’s shit the crossbar and Messi’s attempt to score from the rebound was saved by Paraguay custodian Gatito Fernandez. Argentina eventually managed to win a penalty from that attack as Lautaro Martinez’s shot was deflected to the crossbar by the hand of Paraguay right-back Ivan Piris. Messi stepped up and shot past Fernandez to level for Argentina. This was Messi’s 68th goal for Argentina and his 9th Copa America goal.

Just after the hour mark, Paraguay won a penalty after Nicolas Otamendi brought down Derliz Gonzalez. Gonzalez stepped up to take the penalty kick and Franco Armani saved his shot to keep the scores level.

Barely two minutes following Armani’s save, Argentina squandered a glorious scoring chance when Martinez headed a cross from Giovani lo Celso wide. Argentina had another scoring chance when Rodrygo de Paul’s cross found Messi. However, the Argentine captain’s shot went wide over the crossbar.

There was no late drama during the final stages of the game and both Argentina and Paraguay shared a point each. Argentina now have to beat Qatar at Porto Alegrea on Sunday to qualify for the quarter-finals. Paraguay on the other hand, need to beat already-qualified Colombia at Salvador on Sunday to book their place in the quarter-finals. However, even a draw could do for Paraguay provided the match between Argentina and Qatar ends in a draw.

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