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WC Qualification South America
September 11, 2013
• Estadio Defensores del Chaco, Asunción
Referee: E. Osses
• Attendance: 27000
A. Núñez 17'
R. Santa Cruz 86'
L. Messi 12', 53'
S. Agüero 32'
Á. di María 50'
M. Rodríguez 90'
A thrilling game with plenty of goals, with one nation booking their place at the World Cup! Quite a game, but that's all we have time for tonight. I've been Simon Harrison, I hope you enjoyed Argentina's 5-2 away win over Paraguay, and I will see you all again next time.
Two goals from Lionel Messi, and others from Angel Di Maria, Sergio Aguero and Maxi Rodriguez give Sabella's men a comfortable cushion of victory. Goals from Nunez and Santa Cruz at one point held significance, but vanished into obscurity as Argentina continued to break excellently.
There is the full time whistle! Argentina qualify for next year's World Cup, getting the point they needed to progress into the competition! The home side made a valiant effort, despite having nothing to play for, and the visitors just proved too offensively potent in the end.
90' + 1'
We're into stoppage time, and I think it's only fair if the referee ends this game sooner rather than later. Paraguay are close to conceding their worst defeat, and Argentina are good value for their three goal advantage. It should now be a matter of running down the clock for the visitors.
GOOOAL! MAXI RODRIGUEZ! Great goal from the substitute, he plays a one-two, twists and turns in the Paraguay area, and finishes nicely - smashing the ball past Fernandez and into the bottom corner!
LAVEZZI! He should have scored there! Di Maria broke, it was three on three on the edge of the Paraguay area, allowing for the Real Madrid man to feed in Lavezzi on the left hand side. The PSG man opened his body up, looking to place the ball in the top right hand corner, but got it all wrong, arcing the ball out of play.
GoalRoque Santa Cruz
GOOOAL! SANTA CRUZ! The Malaga man might just have saved his team from recording the worst ever qualifying defeat for Paraguay. Samudio did well to break down the left, before squaring to the back post for Santa Cruz to finish wonderfully.
Great cross from Samudio! Paraguay appeal for a penalty after Santa Cruz looked to be shoved to the ground whilst jumping to meet his teammate's cross, but the Chilean referee isn't interested in the slightest!
This is leisurely stuff for the away side now, winning is a formality and Paraguay aren't quite pressing with the same intensity that they were in the first half. Messi and co will be enjoying this second half immensely, they can roam with freedom.
Lionel Messi may have set a new South American qualifying record with his two goals today, as it should take his total in qualifying to eleven goals. An impressive feat for an impressive player.
Ten minutes left on the clock, and it seems entirely pragmatic to assume that Argentine will be assuming their place at the World Cup next year. Romero has been rarely tested in the second half, and there's surely no way Paraguay can muster the goals required to deny Argentina the chance to progress.
Unconvincing from Fernandez! A strike from Lavezzi cannons off the body of the Paraguay goalkeeper, and fortunately evades the lurking figure of Lionel Messi, who will want his hat-trick tonight. A stroke of luck for the hosts.
If Argentina can manage to score again without reply, this game will be the heaviest Paraguayan World Cup qualifying defeat in their history. Not something that Genes will want to achieve in an already disappointing campaign, I'm sure.
A few half chances for Paraguay in the past ten minutes, but there's a lack of cutting edge for the hosts, which is much needed given Argentina's generous defence. Messi looks to work his magic in the penalty area, but is easily muscled off the ball.
Good work by Nunez again, he's causing a few problems for the visiting defence, and his tenacity allows for his side to win a free-kick following a shove on Da Silva by Coloccini. Ayala once again delivers, Santa Cruz tries to flick the ball toward goal, but it deflects off a blue and white shirt and goes behind.
NUNEZ! Argentine just seem to open up, and the Osasuna forward finds himself racing through on goal! He fires towards the far corner, but Romero tips it around the post for a corner, before the Argentine goalkeeper claims the resulting set piece.
Zabaleta returns to the field of play after receiving some quick treatment on his bleeding nose. Running repairs were in order from the Argentina physio but he'll be fine to continue.
OSCAR ROMERO! The substitutes fires a low drive into the box, and it hits a couple of shins before rebounding clear of the box to Caceres. The right-back tries to float in a cross, but once again slices it hopelessly high and wide of his desired target. Poor.
Poor free-kick delivery from Ayala, who fails to beat the wall with his dead ball once again. The ball is pumped back into the box, however, allowing Nunez to control, but the Osasuna man is outmuscled and Campagnaro shepherds the ball out of play.
Yellow CardPablo Zabaleta
AYALA! The set piece specialist tries his luck from range, but his effort skips off the turf and into the welcome embrace of Romero. The visiting goalkeeper will be happy to face those all game.
This is sustained pressure from Argentina now. Sabella's team look dominant and pretty much certain to get what they need from this game. Breaking dangerously and keeping the focal point of Santa Cruz quiet, it's tough to see where Paraguay can muster three goals from.
Aguero goes down in the penalty area, after a good last ditch challenge from Da Silva. The visitors have a corner, which Lavezzi stands over, but Caceres is forced to nod the Argentine delivery over his own byline for another corner.
Technical trickery from Oscar Romero looks to beat Zabaleta, but the substitute is bundled to the ground. After a good spell for Argentina, Sabella looks to start adding some fresh legs into the mix, and can do so with additional quality players.
AGUERO! That was extremely close! Caceres is able to clear after a great cross from Palacio narrowly avoids the foot of Aguero! There was a wondrous pass from Messi in the build up play. First touch, around the corner, perfectly weighted into the path of the breaking Palacio.
Poor from Aguero, the Argentine goalscorer cuts in from the left, but is easily robbed of the ball by Caceres. Aside from his goal, he hasn't had a sparkling game like some of his offensively-minded compatriots.
SANTA CRUZ! Great defending from Zabaleta! A wondrous ball from Rojas looks destined to find the head of Santa Cruz and latterly the net, but a deft flick from Zabaleta denies the Malaga man the opportunity!
Great clearance off the line by Oscar Romero! Di Maria lifts the ball over Fernandez, and it looks to be bobbling over the line, but Romero recovers well to blast the ball over the crossbar! That was great build up play from Argentina, before the slick one-two to put Di Maria through on goal.
Santa Cruz looks to be held in the box by Campagnaro, but the referee waves away the possible penalty appeal, which Santa Cruz didn't make much of. Paraguay are still reeling from their two second half concessions.
Good work from Santa Cruz to hold the ball up under pressure! The Malaga strikers lays it off to substitute Rojas, who drives forward and is robbed of the ball. Argentina clear, but Paraguay win it back with Caceres, but the right-back puts a terrible cross into the box with three teammates waiting.
Perhaps this is a result of Paraguay having nothing to play for, but Genes' men are sinking without any real trace in this second half. It's been just too easy on the break for the visitors, they're seemingly scoring at will.
GOOOAL! MESSI! He puts the ball in the opposite corner this time, but Fernandez isn't getting anywhere near that, and Messi converts his second penalty of the game! Argentina lead 4-1!
PENALTY! Lionel Messi is adjudged to have been brought down by a trailing leg from a Paraguay defender, and the home side are surrounding the referee! It looked innocuous from Candia, but the referee is certain!
Argentina look almost certainties to qualify for the World Cup now. A point was all that they needed heading into this game, and they're two goals to the good in Asuncion now.
GoalÁngel Di María
GOOOOAL! DI MARIA! 3-1 to Argentina! The Real Madrid man broke quickly, with Messi and Palacio in support, but he didn't need it! He slips the ball under Fernandez to secure Argentina's position in this game.
Basanta shoves Roque Santa Cruz in the back, and the red and white shirts of Paraguay are given yet another opportunity to pile men forward for a free-kick. It's a poor ball in however, and Riveros fails to meet the back post delivery.
A cagey start to the second half, as both sides look very wary about losing possession early on. Neither want to conceded that all-important fourth goal, it would have a profound effect either way.
Sergio Daniel Aquino
We're back underway for the second half! The home side came out a little early, and were received brilliantly by their fans, meanwhile Argentina took a little while longer to emerge from the tunnel, with the diminutive Lionel Messi the first to appear.
Argentina look good value for their lead. The Albiceleste have given away a worrying number of free kicks inside their own half, allowing for the specialist Ayala to whip in some dangerous deliveries, but aside from the dead ball situations, the hosts have offered little.
The half time whistle goes! Argentine lead 2-1 at the halfway point, thanks to a penalty from Lionel Messi and a thumping finish from Sergio Aguero, either side of a Nunez equaliser which Romero should have done so much better with.
45' + 1'
Argentina look to run down the clock in the remaining minutes of the first half, presumably not keen on facing the wrath of Sabella should they concede needlessly.
OFFSIDE! An Argentine corner is taken short, being hammered low across the six yard box at the second time of asking, and Aguero taps the ball home! He looks to celebrate, but then spots the linesman's' flag.
Paraguay break down the right with Nunez, who cuts inside Coloccini well, before being flattened by a strong challenge. The home crowd complain, but the referee waves play on. Argentine continue to hold onto the ball nicely, they've not been as erratic with it compared to their opposition.
PALACIO! The Inter man tries a cheeky dink to beat the sliding challenge of Caceres and the front post presence of Fernandez! It bounces wide, and the home side manage to clear their lines! Yet another half chance goes begging.
NUNEZ! What a great challenge from Coloccini to recover! The centre half manages to keep pace with his opponent, before sliding in to deny Nunez from tucking a low effort inside the near post. The resulting set piece is claimed by Romero.
MESSI! Fernandez stretches to his right to beat away a curling effort from the Barcelona man! That was too easy for Argentina, they cut apart the home side's defence in two passes.
I think you would agree that this has been an action-packed first half an hour in Asuncion, we've seen three goals and plenty of opportunities. Santa Cruz attempts to get beyond Coloccini, but the Newcastle defender steps across his man well to shepherd the ball out for a goal kick.
Lucas Biglia now commits a foul, allowing for the red and white shirts to flood into the Argentine box once again. Ayala takes it after much deliberation, but Romero is quick off his line to punch the ball away from danger.
Great covering defending by Da Silva! Di Maria looked to be in behind his man there, but the Paraguay man read him like a book, stepping back inside to steal the ball from the Argentine's boot. The home side then break, but the attack results in Santa Cruz firing wide.
Fabbro shrugs off one challenge, before laying the ball off to crossing specialist Ayala on the right hand side. The delivery to the back post is decent, but Zabaleta clears.
GOOOOAL! 2-1 ARGENTINA! AGUERO! The diminutive hitman has given his side the lead once more! Messi chests on the ball, allowing for Aguero to drive into the space and hammer a left-footed drive beyond Fernandez!
Good work from Basanta sees the Monterrey full-back nod the ball behind for yet another Paraguay corner. Ayala delivers again, the home crowd appeal for handball, but Argentina clear desperately! The ball is lumped back into the area, it is then spilled by Romero, but the former Sampdoria man grabs it at the second attempt.
This is a good spell for Paraguay, they're seeing plenty more of the ball, and forcing Argentina deep into their own half of the field. The deeper the visitors are, you would think that the potency of their counter attacks would degrade.
ROMERO! Great save from the Argentine goalkeeper! Roque Santa Cruz got good connection on that corner delivery, and a hand from Romero palms the ball around the post, preventing it from nestling in the top corner.
Yet another free-kick for Paraguay, this time at the byline for the hosts. A good change of pace forces Basanta to bring down Ayala, and the home side can deliver into a loaded penalty area once again.
Yet another Paraguay free-kick, as Argentina generously commit yet another foul, but Samudio's delivery is well dealt with, and is prevented from reaching the intended target of Nunez. Argentina have to stop committing fouls in such dangerous areas.
AYALA! The midfielders tries his luck, blasting an effort with probably all of his possible might, but it strikes the wall. Argentina break, with Messi in full flight, but the Barcelona man is dispossessed, to raucous applause.
Good work from Campagnaro prevents Santa Cruz from driving towards goal. Ayala however, is then brought down on the edge of the box by Palacio, and Paraguay could certainly try their luck from this range, just about.
RIVEROS! The Paraguayan midfielder rises highest to meet a deep free-kick, but is penalised for climbing on Basanta! This really is end-to-end stuff, it's chance after chance at the minute.
Sergio Daniel Aquino
PALACIO! The Inter man nods the ball just wide of the back post, and that was a wonderful opportunity for his side to regain the lead! Thankfully for the former Genoa man, the referee had already blown his whistle for a high foot by Basanta.
MESSI! Aguero manages to wriggle away from two defenders, who really should have done better, before the Manchester City man centres the ball in search of Messi! His compatriot manages to flick the delivery on, but Fernandez makes the save, beating it away for a corner.
Good challenge Campagnaro! The Inter man throws himself whole-heartedly into a good sliding tackle, and Argentina look to break, they have the numbers to do damage whenever they get out of their own half.
GOOOOAL! NUNEZ! Romero has made a mess of that, but the home fans don't care one bit! The Paraguay striker just managed to flick the ball towards goal at the near post, but the Monaco man allowed the ball to bobble over him and in!
Argentina hold onto the ball well, shifting it from right to left with purpose. The home side doesn't quite have the same ideas as their adversaries, the long ball always is in search of Santa Cruz. Di Maria tries a cute chip to the back post, but the booked Fernandez claims.
This has been a good start to the game for the visitors, they have pressed well to force mistakes from Paraguay, and when they've gained possession, the break is always on. With the wealth of quality in their forward line, Argentina are quite frightening tonight.
That wasn't quite the start that Genes would have had in mind. His Paraguay defence was hopelessly outnumbered against the lightning quick break from Argentina. Sabella's men reap the early reward, and Messi has himself a goal.
GOOOAL! MESSI! The Barcelona man nets, was it ever in doubt? He sends Fernandez the wrong way, coolly slotting the ball in the bottom left corner!
Yellow CardR. Fernández
PENALTY! A long throw is launched into the box from the hosts, but Zabaleta heads clear, triggering a counter attack! Aguero picks up the ball from Di Maria, takes it around Fernadez, and the goalkeeper brings down the City man!
Half chance! Campagnaro looks to leave a ball for Romero to collect, but the Monaco man is slow to get there! Campagnaro does his best to shield the ball from the onrushing Santa Cruz and Nunez, but it's a close call! Romero collects, just.
The resulting corner is dealt with easily, and Argentina clear their lines. Di Maria looks to break quickly, but the Real Madrid man can't quite keep the ball in play, and possession is Paraguay's once again in the form of a throw-in.
Patient stuff from Romero, the Monaco goalkeeper is in no rush to distribute the ball, encouraging some pressing from the opposition. Nunez then threatens, after being fed in the box by Santa Cruz, but Basanta deflects it behind for a corner.
AGUERO! The diminutive Manchester City man drives at the heart of the Paraguay defence, as Caceres misjudges a bouncing ball. He cuts it back, looking for Palacio, but the Inter man can't direct it towards goal!
A good long ball from Ayala looks for the imposing figure of Roque Santa Cruz, but Romero is quick off his line to collect the ball on the edge of his area. Still nothing promising from either side!
Still no sniff of a chance for either side, with the midfield third appearing very congested. All signs point towards a feisty game, but this has been a cagey affair so far, with neither side really getting the opportunity to get their foot on the ball.
Early possession belongs to Argentina, with whistles and jeers ringing around the stadium. No chances as of yet, with both team seemingly conscious of not conceding an early goal, but things should open up a little before long.
A sloppy start to proceedings, as both sides exchange possession cheaply in the first few passages of play. The instruments are audible, and the crowd are keen to voice their emotions during this game, which means a lot to the home fans.
We are underway in a sold out Estadio Defensores del Chaco! The atmosphere is great, and referee blows the first whistle of the evening to signal the start to what will be a hard-fought game.
We're moments from kick-off now, and this promises to be a feisty affair in Asuncion. Paraguay are playing for pride, but that is something rather huge to play for when the opposition in question are Argentina. Lionel Messi will want a goal for himself too, he didn't manage one here four years ago.
Due to the previous results in South American qualifiers earlier, Argentina are already safely through to the World Cup, with Paraguay firmly given no chance of progressing to the competition. That doesn't matter however, as the hosts will be keen to continue their good run against Albiceleste.
Argentina's substitutes: Fernandez, Orion, Lamela, Dominguez, Ansaldi, Banega, Lavezzi, Andujar, Alvarez, Brana, Vergini.
Paraguay's substitutes are as follows: Sanabria, Silva, Angel Romero, Montenegro, Gomez, Oscar Romero, Pedro Benitez, Aquino.
Argentina look likely to score against a Paraguay defence which has been anything but mean in recent games against strong opposition, and with Sergio Aguero and Lionel Messi starting in attack, it's likely that the hosts will have to outdo their opponents' scoring exploits. A tough ask, but plausible.
We'll be underway in about ten minutes, with Argentina set to qualify for next year's World Cup in Brazil, if they are to pick up maximum points today. Paraguay have been victorious in their past two competitive clashes in Asuncion, so there's certainly a score to settle for the away side.
Argentina starting line-up: Romero, Coloccini, Zabaleta, Basanta, Campagnaro, Biglia, Gago, Di Maria, Palacio, Messi, Aguero.
Paraguay starting line-up: Da Silva, Candia, Caceres, Samudio, Riveros, Fabbro, Ayala, Ortiz, Santa Cruz, Nunez.
I'm Simon Harrison, and I will be the man to guide you through this South America World Cup qualifier, which sees a very strong Argentina outfit travel to Paraguay in search of a favourable result. The hosts come into this game from a 4-0 victory over Bolivia, so Sabella's men would be unwise to underestimate them.
Hello and welcome to live coverage of Argentina's trip to Paraguay, where the Albiceleste haven't managed to grab a win in a World Cup qualifier since 1997. Can Lionel Messi and co. change recent history by grabbing three points that would leave them on the brink of qualification?
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