Argentina’s undefeated run hits 25
BUENOS AIRES: Argentina took their unbeaten run to 25 matches and moved a step closer to qualifying for the World Cup with a hard-fought 1-0 win over Peru on Thursday.
Lautaro Martinez scored the only goal of the game two minutes before the break with a powerful header while Yoshimar Yotun missed a second half penalty for Peru.
On his first start for his country, Raphinha scored a brace as Brazil all but mathematically booked their place at the World Cup with a 4-1 thrashing of Uruguay.
Neymar and Gabriel Barbosa scored the other goals while Luis Suarez notched Uruguay’s consolation.
Brazil top the single South American qualifying group by six points from Argentina, who have an eight point gap to those that could deny them a berth at Qatar 2022.
Argentina last lost in the 2019 Copa America semi-finals — 2-0 against Brazil.
Since then the South American giants have been unstoppable, beating Brazil twice on their run, including earlier this year in the 2021 Copa America final.
Peru’s approach was industrious and crude, with Lionel Messi subjected to several rash challenges.
Argentina took the lead two minutes before half-time as Martinez sent a bullet header from Nahuel Molina’s cross straight over goalkeeper Pedro Gallese’s head.
“You could see we were tired today,” admitted Argentina coach Lionel Scaloni after an “exhausting” three matches in the space of a week.
“We got on with it and took the points, which is what we wanted.”