Biglia goal gives Ar­gentina vi­tal win

Kuwait Times - - SPORTS -

BAR­RAN­QUILLA: Ar­gentina mid­fielder Lu­cas Biglia scored a 20th minute goal to kick-start their World Cup qual­i­fy­ing cam­paign with a 1-0 away vic­tory over Colom­bia at the Metropoli­tano on Tues­day.

It was Ar­gentina’s first win in four qual­i­fiers with­out in­jured cap­tain Lionel Messi and leaves them with five points, still seven be­hind lead­ers Ecuador who beat Venezuela 3-1 away.

Sur­prise pack­age Ecuador ex­tended to 12 points their per­fect start, which be­gan with a 2-0 up­set vic­tory over Ar­gentina in Buenos Aires last month.

Colom­bia, who be­gan with a 2-0 home win over Peru, have four points fol­low­ing their 1-1 draw in Chile last week.

Biglia be­gan an at­tack in the Ar­gentina half, Ever Banega car­ried on the move with a pass out to Eze­quiel Lavezzi on the right and his low cross beat David Ospina, al­low­ing Biglia, fol­low­ing up, to tap into the un­guarded net.

Ar­gentina, also with­out for­ward Ser­gio Aguero, had chances to make the re­sult safer but sub­sti­tute striker Paulo Dy­bala had a goal dis­al­lowed and min­utes later hit the post.

They had to over­come the heat and hu­mid­ity and a noisy 45,000 crowd for a sec­ond suc­ces­sive vic­tory in Bar­ran­quilla.

The Caribbean port city was where Ar­gentina got their pre­vi­ous World Cup qual­i­fy­ing cam­paign off the ground with a 2-1 win in Novem­ber 2011 on the way to last year’s fi­nal in Brazil.

Ar­gentina wrested con­trol from Colom­bia af­ter with­stand­ing early pres­sure and could have scored in the 12th minute but Gon­zalo Higuain shot over from An­gel Di Maria’s cross.

They sur­vived a scare when goal­keeper Ser­gio Romero mis­judged a back­ward header from cen­tral de­fender Ro­ge­lio Funes Mori and had to make a div­ing save.

An­gel Di Maria had a chance just be­fore the in­ter­val when he had only Colom­bia keeper David Ospina to beat but his shot skimmed the out­side of the post.

Ar­gentina’s mid­field of Biglia, Banega and Javier Mascher­ano en­sured the visi­tors had more ter­ri­to­rial con­trol in a tight sec­ond half, mov­ing well to deny Colom­bia space to build moves.

“We knew it wouldn’t be an easy match... Ar­gentina oc­cu­pied space well and cre­ated room for them­selves to counter-at­tack while deny­ing us room to get closer to their goal­keeper,” sub­sti­tute striker Luis Muriel told re­porters.

Muriel played a key role in Thurs­day’s 1-1 draw in San­ti­ago in a per­for­mance Colom­bia were un­able to re­peat in Bar­ran­quilla.

The top four at the end of the 10team, 18-match South Amer­i­can group in two years’ time will qual­ify for the 2018 Rus­sia fi­nals with the fifth-placed team go­ing into an in­ter­con­ti­nen­tal play­off. — Reuters

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