Belo Horizonte: Despite another shaky performance in the Copa America, Argentina still have their fate in their hands to reach the quarter-finals after drawing 1-1 with Paraguay on Wednesday as fortune shined on their side three times.
Argentina captain Lionel Messi pulled his side level in the 57th minute after a handball by Paraguay’s Ivan Peris, which no one on the pitch appealed for but was spotted by a VAR review.
Richard Sanchez had given Paraguay the lead in the 37th minute, firing into the bottom corner.
Paraguay were awarded a spot-kick of their own a few minutes later but Derlis Gonzalez’s shot was saved by Argentina keeper Franco Armani, who was lucky to avoid a red card when he fouled Gonzalez outside his area at the end of the first half.
Argentina are still bottom of Group B with one point from two games but they could progress to the last eight with a win over third-placed Qatar in their final group game on Sunday.
Anything less than victory against the Asian Cup winners will send Argentina out and further prolong Messi’s long wait to win a trophy with his country.
The result ensured Colombia clinched top spot in the group on six points after they beat Qatar 1-0.
Argentina’s caretaker coach Lionel Scaloni admitted his side had not played well and struggled to cope with the shock of conceding the first goal.
“Our first half was not good, we played with desperation at times and we couldn’t control the play or create attacks. We had a very clear plan but couldn’t execute it as we kept losing the ball,” he said.
“They scored with their first attack and that caused us a lot of uncertainty. For a team like Argentina, which feels like it always has to win, the first blow is hard to take, but we assured the players at half-time that it was just one goal.”