April's fool's prank? Not exactly. No matter how strange it may sound, Diego Maradona's three-game undefeated streak came to an abrupt end after Argentina were slaughtered 6-1 by Bolivia in the altitude of La Paz...
Bolivia 6-1 Argentina
Bolivia knew that anything less than the three points would put an end to their World Cup aspirations, and this seemed to motivate them, as they completely ripped apart a woeful Argentina to claim an extraordinary 6-1 victory.
Without any doubt the hero of the afternoon was Correcaminos striker Joaquin Botero who scored a superb hat-trick. Marcelo Moreno, Alex Da Rosa and Didi Torrico scored Bolivia's other three goals, while Luis Gonzalez scored for Los Albicelestes.
The Bolivians were in much need of a win and they piled heavy pressure on the Argentina goal with a great deal of authority.
Marcelo Moreno almost put Bolivia ahead in the fifth minute, but his powerful drive was spectacularly saved by Juan Pablo Carrizo.
The South American minnows continued to pepper the Argentine goal, and in the 11th minute they went ahead when Moreno found space in the area and beat Carrizo with a well-placed shot.
Minutes later Didi Torrico struck the crossbar with a venomous long-range drive that caught Carrizo by surprise.
Argentina came more into the match as the half progressed, and they almost drew level after a fine combination between Carlos Tevez and Lionel Messi.
In the 24th minute Luis Gonzalez tested Bolivia with what seemed to be a mild long-range drive, but it took an awkward bounce that fooled Carlos Arias before finding itself in the back of the net.
The match continued to be highly entertaining, with both teams creating their fare share of goal-scoring opportunities.
In the 33rd minute Bolivia were awarded a penalty when Javier Zanetti committed a clumsy foul inside of the area. Joaquin Botero stepped up to the spot and beat Carrizo with a good finish.
But Bolivia weren't done yet, as in first half injury-time they added their third. Arias caught out Botero with a quick goal kick and the striker sent a perfect cross to the back post which Alex Da Rosa met with a powerful header.
Not in their wildest dreams would Diego Maradona and his side have imagined to be going into the break 3-1 down, even if the effects of the high altitude in La Paz may have had an influence.
After the break a pumped Bolivia continued to look threatening, and in the 54th minute Botero extended their advantage with a superb header from a difficult angle.
The likes of Messi, Javier Mascherano, and Tevez had no influence on the match whatsoever. Perhaps the high altitude had something to do with this, but Maradona's side seemed completely overwhelmed.
When it seemed that Argentina's afternoon couldn't be any worse, in the 63rd minute Angel Di Maria, who had only just entered the field, was sent-off for a violent tackle.
The two-time world champions couldn't find their feet and were completely outplayed by a much superior Bolivia side, who knew exactly how to take advantage of playing at over 3,600 metres above sea level.
Bolivia continued to dominate, and in the 65th minute Botero completed a sensation hat-trick when he beat Carrizo with a straight forward finish after another lapse of concentration in the Argentina defence.
Finally, four minutes from full-time Torrico ended Argentina's misery when he beat Carrizo with a well-placed drive from outside of the area.
The final whistle couldn't have come any sooner for Maradona and his Argentina squad, who suffered one of the heaviest defeats in their entire history.
Bolivia 6: Carlos Arias, Luis Ribeiro, Abdon Reyes (Ignacio Garcia 54'), Ronald Rivero, Juan Pena, Didi Torrico, Alex Da Rosa (Mauricio Saucedo 68'), Ronald Garcia (Walter Flores 78'), Reyes, Joaquin Botero and Marcelo Moreno. Coach: Erwin Sanchez
Argentina 1: Juan Carrizo, Javier Zanetti, Gabriel Heinze, Emiliano Papa, Martin Demichelis, Maxi Rodriguez (Angel Di Maria 56'), Javier Mascherano, Luis Gonzalez (Marcos Angeleri 68'), Fernando Gago, Lionel Messi and Carlos Tevez (Daniel Montenegro 75'). Coach: Diego Maradona.
Goals: Marcelo Moreno (11'), Luis Gonzalez (24'), Joaquin Botero (33', 54', 65'), Alex Da Rosa (44'), Didi Torrico (86')
Yellow Cards: Emiliano Papa (40'), Reyes (41'), Alex Da Rosa (45'), Didi Torrico (48')
Red Card: Angel Di Maria (63')
Referee: Martin Vasquez (Uruguay)
Venue: Hernando Siles, La Paz. Att: 40,000
Gregory Sica, Goal.com