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Argentina v Paraguay Live Commentary, 20/06/2019

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L. Messi (57 pen)
R. Sánchez (37)
Estádio Governador Magalhães Pinto


That concludes our commentary of the Copa America Group B fixture between Argentina and Paraguay! We hope you enjoyed it!
Argentina and Paraguay are both feature again in four days, when Qatar face the Albiceleste and Berizzo’s squad face Colombia.
Another disappointing performance from Argentina sees them end their second group fixture with Paraguay in a 1-1 draw. Argentina knew they needed to score coming out of the interval, but they could only find parity through a rather dubious penalty call which Messi took full advantage of, finishing neatly into the bottom corner. Paraguay could have regained the lead six minutes later with a penalty of their own after a reckless tackle inside the penalty area by Otamendi - but Gonzalez saw his attempt saved at the post by Armani. It's a poor display and a poor result for Scaloni’s side, who finish the day last in their group - tied with Qatar on one point. The draw puts Paraguay second, a point above the two below them, but an unassailable four points behind Colombia.
90' + 7' Romero goes for a spectacular overhead clearance in midfield but gets his foot caught by the high boot of Suarez. It’s a free-kick to Paraguay despite the protestations - which will allow them to clear their lines.
90' + 6' Paraguay have not won any of their last 13 Copa America games against South American nations (D8 L5), with their last win in the competition against a CONMEBOL side coming in 2007 (5-0 v Colombia).
90' + 4' Paraguay look to get 10 men behind the ball in the final five minutes as they desperately cling onto a point. Argentina are pouring forward but their direct play isn’t making any progress.
90' + 2' The fourth official indicates that an additional seven minutes will be added on for stoppages - mostly due to the pauses in play for VAR.
J. Escobar
D. González
90' As time winds down, Paraguay make their final switch. It’s a defensive alteration as Gonzalez is replaced by Escobar.
C. Ortiz
M. Almirón
87' Almiron is taken off by Berizzo, to be replaced by Ortiz.
M. Suárez
R. De Paul
87' Argentina’s final roll of the dice sees De Paul come off for Suarez.
85' Matias Rojas takes the free-kick and finds an open Romero at the far post, which brings two fantastic saves out of Armani - one while the goalkeeper was on the ground. Had he scored - it wouldn’t have counted anyway as the forward is flagged for offside.
N. Otamendi
Yellow Card
83' Almiron breaks away on another rapid counter-attack and gets by a defender before going down under a heavy slide tackle from Otamendi. Paraguay have a free-kick outside of the penalty area, while the centre-back receives a yellow.
N. Tagliafico
Yellow Card
80' Tagliafico goes up for a header against Piris and catches the Paraguay right-back in the face with a flailing arm. He’ll receive a yellow for the infringement.
78' Paraguay are building around the Argentina penalty area, but some determined pressing from Di Maria forces the ball all the way back into their defensive half. With just over 10 minutes left in the match, the result is finely poised.
76' The play has slowed considerably as we enter the final 15 minutes, with Paraguay more than happy to take a point away from Belo Horizonte. Argentina have not given up the ghost and push forward at every opportunity, but they haven’t looked likely to score all match.
74' Messi brings the ball towards the Paraguay penalty area, but a quick interchange between the captain and Aguero sees the striker fail to complete his return pass, as Alonso is allowed to clear it away - if only momentarily.
Ó. Romero
F. Santander
72' Paraguay make their first switch of the evening, replacing Santander with Romero.
69' Argentina have lost just one of their last seven meetings with Paraguay in all competitions (W4 D2), with that loss coming in their last such encounter (0-1 at home during the 2018 World Cup Qualifiers).
Á. Di María
Lautaro Martínez
67' Di Maria is on for Martinez in Argentina's second switch. 
65' Messi takes an Argentina free-kick but once again Santander is there to meet it and send it out of his penalty area.
D. González
Penalty Miss
63' Misery for Gonzalez who, himself earned the penalty shot, only to see his effort parried. It wasn’t the most confident hit for the winger, who always seemed to be shooting in that direction.
F. Armani
Penalty Save
63' ARMANI IS THE HERO AS THE PENALTY IS SAVED! Gonzalez steps up to take it, and he sends his penalty low and to the right, but the goalkeeper reads the spot-kick the whole way and pushes it around his post!
61' PENALTY TO PARAGUAY! THE REFEREE POINTED STRAIGHT TO THE SPOT! Gonzalez is taken down inside the penalty area after an extremely rash Otamendi slide tackle. The centre-back had no play on the ball there - and he may just cost his side parity!
59' Paraguay will feel extremely hard done by after that somewhat dubious penalty was awarded to Argentina, but they have shown more than enough resiliency and determination to retake the lead. It will be a tough task, but even a point should do for Berizzo.
L. Messi
Penalty Goal
57' MESSI LEVELS THE SCORE WITH HIS PENALTY! 1-1! Confidence from the Barcelona and Argentina captain as he steps up and hits a venomous penalty into the bottom-right corner! The Albiceleste have their lifeline!
I. Piris
Yellow Card
55' Piris is shown a yellow card for the handball - which appears to be very harsh.
54' ARGENTINA AWARDED A PENALTY AFTER VAR! It’s a handball which the referee has spotted on second look, and it appears that the Messi half-volley did catch the arm of Piris - though it’s extremely minimal contact.
52' The referee pauses play momentarily to have a discussion with VAR regarding the earlier passage of play, but it’s unclear what the review is for as the Argentina players gather in the Paraguay penalty area for a corner.
50' ARGENTINA STRIKE THE CROSSBAR AND FERNANDEZ BEATS AWAY THE FOLLOW-UP! Aguero squares a pass to the edge of the six-yard box, and Martinez hits the bouncing ball first time, pushing his effort against the woodwork. The ball bounces back out to Messi, but his half-volley is met with an excellent diving stop from the Paraguay goalkeeper!
48' Argentina must start brightly in the second half or risk growing more and more frustrated. Paraguay are defending resolutely after the restart, continuing to suffocate the Albiceleste attack.
46' Argentina get the match underway from the kick-off! 
S. Agüero
R. Pereyra
46' A change at half sees Argentina commit to the attack, with Aguero replacing Pereyra. 
It’s going to take herculean strength both physically and mentally to overturn this lead, as Argentina seem to constantly find themselves in this position. With Colombia already qualified, Scaloni must make drastic changes to get his side back into the contest. With the likes of Di Maria, Aguero and Dybala on the bench, he has all the firepower he needs. Berrizo will be ecstatic with the 45 minutes despite losing his captain, as the score plays perfectly into his tactical set-up.
A poor first half in terms of quality comes to an end as Paraguay enter the interval up by a score of 1-0. Argentina looked the side in the ascendancy in the opening 10 minutes, but they left too much space at the back one too many times, as Berrizo’s counter-attacking side finally took full advantage through the electric Almiron - who came into the match as it progressed. Argentina did not respond well to going a goal down, with Messi’s shot from a free-kick the only one of the evening for the Albiceleste.
45' + 3' Play is stopped as Gomez is stretchered off after falling awkwardly immediately proceeding an aerial clash with both Otamendi and Tagliafico. It doesn’t look promising for the centre-back who has defended dutifully in the first half.
45' + 1' The fourth official indicates three additional minutes at the end of the half for stoppages.
F. Armani
Yellow Card
45' Messi takes the free-kick deep in the half towards the far post, but it’s too close to the goalkeeper who makes an easy catch. On the counter-attack, Armani travels well out of his goal to boot it out of his half, but he makes a horrible mistake and is forced to foul Gonzalez and earn a yellow card. More reckless defending from Argentina!
R. Rojas
Yellow Card
43' Rodrigo Rojas is booked late in the half for a reckless sliding challenge on Paredes.
41' Paraguay look to clear their lines as Argentina pour forward on another attack, and get somewhat lucky as a booted clearance catches Messi’s arm - forcing the referee to award a free-kick against the captain.
39' How will the Argentina XI respond to a shocking 1-0 deficit? The Albiceleste fans in the stadium are voicing their displeasure quite clearly, which can’t be of any help to the side on the pitch.
M. Almirón
37' Almiron’s run was absolutely breathtaking; charging down the left flank, getting the better of both Pereyra and Casco in the process. His pass was of equal quality - a very worthy assist for the opening goal!
R. Sánchez
37' PARAGUAY HAVE SCORED TO MAKE IT 1-0! An absolutely scintillating run from Newcastle forward Almiron takes him to the byline, where he pulls it back to the top of the penalty area for Sanchez to scuff into the back of the net! The shot is slightly mishit - but he won’t care!
34' Messi scoops his free-kick towards the left of the goal, but it’s struck with a surprising lack of power as Fernandez walks over to his post to make an easy catch.
G. Gómez
Yellow Card
32' Gomez, captain of the Paraguay side, is booked for pushing Martinez in the back as the forward was turned to receive a pass. Argentina have a free-kick just outside the penalty area with a shade over 10 minutes remaining in the first half.
30' Matias Rojas swings a corner into the penalty area where Gomez gets a flick-on towards the edge of the six-yard box. Alonso is in the correct position, but he flaps at the chance as he sends it wide by some margin.
28' ALMOST A GOAL FOR PARAGUAY! Gonzalez bursts down the right flank after a wonderful pass from Matias Rojas and breaks into the penalty area, slowing down slightly before hitting a shot to the far post which is blocked narrowly wide by Tagliafico! It’s the first real change of the match!
26' Argentina have been lacklustre in the opening 30 minutes, failing to register a shot of any sort. They seem lax after what appeared to be a wakeup call in their last match against Colombia, but Paraguay have not been put under enough pressure.
24' Messi floats a free-kick into the penalty area but Santander does his defensive duties and rises highest to nod it out of the box. Argentina maintain possession, but the initial danger has passed comfortably.
22' Paraguay hold possession in their own half before another long pass from the left flank goes into the penalty area searching for Santander. Otamendi gets an awkward flick to it which loops the ball over the goalkeeper’s head, but Armani has enough space behind him to track back and pick it out of the air.
20' Messi dances through three defenders as he steams ahead towards the penalty area, but the fourth man on the scene wins the ball and dispossesses the Argentina captain. He appeals for a foul as there appeared to be contact, but the referee waives it away immediately.
18' Matias Rojas tries to make inroads with a long pass down the left channel for the chest of Santander, but the striker is unable to bring it under is control as it rolls through for Armani.
16' Gonzalez has come back onto the pitch which is good to see after the clash seemed to do considerable harm.
15' An Argentina attack comes to an end as Messi’s high boot, raised to control a flicked Lo Celso pass inside the penalty area, catches the head of Gomez who needs a moment to gather himself before the free-kick can be taken.
13' After bringing the stretcher out, it appears as though the Paraguay international is able to walk off under his own power. Berrizo has called for a substitute to warm up just in case, but for the moment we resume play.
11' Gonzalez is down after a clash of heads with Tagliafico where the Paraguay winger seems to have taken the majority of the damage. He’s bleeding considerably from the left side of his head, forcing the medial staff on to attend to him.
9' The first 10 minutes have been attack against defence as Paraguay look in some difficulty keeping the ball. Most passes seem to be hit long, which allows Argentina to recover much easier.
7' Paraguay are looking to get it over the top to Santander at every opportunity, but the powerful striker has had little luck so far knocking it down for his team-mates. Otamendi looks in control at every aerial duel.
5' Lo Celso pours forward but his pass to the left is too late, as De Paul is tightly marked near the corner flag. The square pass into the penalty area is intercepted and cleared immediately, but Argentina gather possession again.
3' Argentina have started the brighter of the two sides, pushing the whole side forward into Paraguay’s half. The pressure tells early as De Paul is dragged down for a free-kick well outside the penalty area.
1' Paraguay get the match underway from the kick-off in Belo Horizonte!
A quick reminder of the standings as we head into the clash at The Mineirao: Colombia lead the group with six points after two matches, while Paraguay sit second with a point after one game. Qatar’s earlier 1-0 loss to Colombia means they are in third with a draw in two matches - and Argentina round out the quartet without a point after one fixture played.
Paraguay make six changes from their last fixture - a 2-2 draw with Qatar. Piris and Gomez replace Valdez and Balbuena at right and centre-back respectively, while Gonzalez and Sanchez replace Ortiz and Perez in midfield. Berizzo also makes alterations in attack, where Matias Rojas and Santander get the start ahead of Dominguez and Cardozo.
Argentina make four changes from the XI that lost 2-0 to Colombia on Saturday. Casco gets the nod over Saravia at right-back and a midfield shakeup sees Rodriguez and Di Maria dropped for De Paul and Pereyra. The final switch is in the attacking third sees Aguero lose his place to Martinez.
PARAGUAY SUBS: Hernan Perez, Ivan Torres, Fabian Balbuena, Antony Silva, Juan Escobar, Oscar Romero, Celso Ortiz, Juan Uribe, Cecilio Dominguez, Bruno Valdez, Oscar Cardozo, Alfredo Aguilar.
PARAGUAY XI (4-4-1-1): Roberto Fernandez; Ivan Piris, Gustavo Gomez, Junior Alonso, Santiago Arzamendia; Derlis Gonzalez, Richard Sanchez, Rodrigo Rojas, Matias Rojas; Miguel Almiron; Federico Santander.
ARGENTINA SUBS: Angel Di Maria, Ramiro Funes Mori, Marcos Acuna, Renzo Saravia, Sergio Aguero, Juan Foyth, Guido Rodriguez, Guido Pizarro, Juan Musso, Matias Suarez, Augustin Marchesin, Paulo Dybala.
ARGENTINA XI (4-4-2): Franco Armani; Nicolas Tagliafico, Nicolas Otamendi, German Pezzella, Milton Casco; Rodrigo De Paul, Leandro Paredes, Giovani Lo Celso, Roberto Pereyra; Lautaro Martinez, Lionel Messi.
With 15 minutes to go before kick-off, it’s time to take a look at how the two sides will be lining up, starting with Argentina!
Eduardo Berizzo brings his side to The Mineirao in Belo Horizonte after a somewhat disappointing 2-2 draw with invitees Qatar in their opening group stage match  - despite holding a 2-0 lead with 20 minutes remaining. The Paraguay defence has been shaky of late, conceding 7 in their last four matches, If the side anchored by Junior Alonso can start brightly at the back, however, Argentina will likely get increasingly frustrated in a hostile atmosphere, which should help their cause.
Desperate times call for desperate measures as Argentina look to bounce back after an awful performance in a 2-0 defeat to Colombia in their opener. La Albiceleste have their backs up against the wall, in last place after Paraguay’s draw with Qatar in matchday one. It looks as though lessons from the 2018 World Cup haven’t been learned by the side now managed by one-time assistant Lionel Scaloni. Despite the coach only bringing less than half of the squad that attended the Russia World Cup, Messi and company find themselves in a similar position. If Argentina are to win their first title in 26 years, they’ll have to get going against Paraguay.
Good evening and welcome to our LIVE commentary of the Copa America Group B fixture between Argentina and Paraguay!