Argentina's World Cup hopes hang in balance after draw with Peru

Lawrence Cooper
October 7, 2017

A downcast Lionel Messi during Argentina's draw with Peru.

Argentina were already struggling, sitting fifth just behind Peru going into the game, but have now dropped out of even the play-off position's after failing to win at La Bombonera, seeing Chile leap-frog them thanks to a late Alexis Sanchez victor against Ecuador. Peru would go on to lose to Chile in the playoff round, and they haven't really sniffed a World Cup since, aside from the 1998 qualifiers, which saw them lose 4-0 to Chile on the second-to-last match day after players were harassed by Chilean fans the night before the game.

Messi is used to having the Barcelona team built around him, assembled to bring out his greatest strengths - Xavi saying that the striker always needs to given the ball and involved in every way.

Brazil, who have already qualified in first place, were held to a 0-0 draw by eliminated Bolivia in La Paz earlier Thursday.

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"I am convinced that if we are as we were today, that Argentina is going to the World Cup", he said. Their win shoots them up from sixth to third and places their World Cup fate in their own hands.

The Chileans travel to Brazil for their final game, knowing that a draw should be enough to see them claim at least fifth spot.

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In Barranquilla, Colombia threw away what looked to be a certain victory that would have put them within touching distance of qualification as they crashed to a 2-1 defeat to Paraguay.

In the same group, meanwhile, Algeria - who impressed at the 2014 World Cup and nearly knocked out eventual champions Germany - are bottom with one point from four games, prompting fans to ask: how did it all go so wrong?

Earlier, group leaders Brazil and ninth-placed Bolivia played out a goalless draw in a match that had no bearing on the final standings.

Four years after the United States delivered Panama their most painful blow, Los Canaleros are out for revenge. "We love you forever and ever". As a result, they play each other twice (home and away), resulting in a total of 18 games each.

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Argentina's fortunes largely rest on how other teams perform next week, when they will meet already-eliminated Ecuador who now sit two places below in the table.

The coach said in a news conference: "We don't generally man-mark players".

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