Argentina earnt a hard fought 1-0 win against Paraguay at the Estadio Mané Garrincha de Brasilia to book their place in the quarterfinal of the CONMEBOL Copa America
With this win the Albiceleste establish themselves as the sole leader’s of Group A with 7 points, followed by Chile on 5, Paraguay on 3, Uruguay 1 and Bolivia bottom on zero points.
Argentina made the better start and despite rotation in the side looked the stronger side from the outset.
In the opening period ‘Papu’ Gómez sent a left foot shot just over the bar from outside the area before Sergio Agüero failed to take advantage of a Paraguayan defensive mix up.
Argentina were soon able to convert a period of superiority to a goal advantage. Lionel Messi lead the attack, finding Ángel Di María who masterfully set up Sevilla’s ‘Papu’ Gómez for a classy, clinical finish. It was 1-0 and it was well deserved.
— Copa América (@CopaAmerica) June 22, 2021
The game could have been wrapped up early for Argentina early had Messi’s exquisitie freekick nestled in the corner rather than pinging off the post.
After a shaky start paraguay began to settle into the game midway through the first half. Despite regaining some control of the game, neither Ángel Romero and Miguel Almirón were able to work some magic in the final while Gabriel Ávalos was being closely marked by the Argentine central defenders. More control but still no clear chances for Berizzos’ side.
Despite Argentina sitting off and allowing Paraguay possession, the organization of Scaloni’s side made it very difficult for Paraguay to inflict any damage.
However, prolonged periods of Paraguayan possession started to build confidence. Argentina’s shrewd strategic retrenchment began to look like a nervy retreat as Paraguay started to pile on the pressure.
The departures of ‘Kun’ Agüero and ‘Papu’ Gómez allowed Scaloni’s men to reinforce in midfield to withstand the Paraguayan attacks and Messi was freed up as the Argentine attacking outlet.
Berizzo tasked Óscar Romero with creating the decisive moment but minutes passed without an effort of note on Emiliano Martínez’ goal.
At times it was nervy but Argentina managed to hold their lead until the final whistle to confirm their progression to the next round of the CONMEBOL Copa America.
Paraguay, meanwhile, stay on 3 points and will have to continue battling out in the group to secure qualification.
NUMBERS FROM THE GAME
• Argentina beat Paraguay for the first time in four competitive games (3 draws, 1 loss). The previous Albiceleste victory came in the semifinal of the CONMEBOL Copa América 2015 (6-1).
• Argentina stretch their unbeaten run to 16 games in all competitions (9 wins, 7 draws). They have not lost since an0-2 defeat to Brazil in the Copa América 2019.
• Paraguay did not score in three of their last four games: 0-0 against Uruguay, 0-2 against Brazil and 0-1 tonight against Argentina. They only found the net in the 3-1 win against Bolivia on the first round of the Copa América.
• Lionel Messi equalled Javier Mascherano’s record as the player with the most caps for Argentina (147). In addition, he has now played 100 competitive matches for the Albiceleste.
• For the first time in the last nine games against Argentina, Paraguay had more possession than their rival: they had 56.9% of possession.
• Argentina had eight shots on goal tonight against Paraguay. This was the second lowest during the Lionel Scaloni era, tied with the match against Ecuador in October 2020 and one more than the game against Paraguay at the CONMEBOL Copa América 2019 (7).