Angel Di Maria’s goal on Friday put Argentina on the verge of qualifying for next year’s World Cup in Qatar as Lionel Messi was on the bench for the 1-0 win away to Uruguay.
Messi was only called upon by coach Lionel Scaloni to play the final quarter of an hour as he made his comeback from knee and hamstring issues that saw him miss Paris Saint-Germain’s last two matches.
Di Maria’s sublime early finish at the Campeon del Siglo stadium in Montevideo was the difference between the sides in a match dominated by Uruguay.
Argentina Need To Beat Brazil To Qualify
The result means Argentina — who are unbeaten in 26 matches — will qualify for the World Cup finals if they beat Brazil on Tuesday and any one of Colombia, Chile or Uruguay fail to win.
Emiliano Martinez stated that the team had great courage and wanted to win every game, even though they didn’t play well.
The defeat left Uruguay in a World Cup play-off spot, behind Colombia and Chile in the final two automatic qualification positions on goal difference.
Nahitan Nandez should have given Uruguay a fifth-minute lead after Argentina failed to deal with a long throw into the box.
Uruguay was made to pay two minutes later as Paulo Dybala robbed a dawdling Joaquin Piquerez just outside the box and passed inside for Di Maria to stroke a glorious shot into the top corner.
It was Argentina’s only shot at goal in the first half.
Finally, with a quarter of an hour to play, Scaloni summoned Messi from the bench but he had little impact on the game.