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Venezuela v Argentina Live Commentary, 07/09/2016

2 - 2
J. Añor (35)
Josef Martínez (53)
L. Pratto (58)
N. Otamendi (83)
Estadio Olímpico Metropolitano de Mérida


That's all folks! Thank you for following the LIVE action of this CONMEBOL FIFA World Cup qualifier - hope you've enjoyed it. Until next time, see you soon!
A credible point for Venezuela although it could have been so much more for the hosts, who led 2-0 thanks to a world-class individual effort from Juan Pablo Anor before Josef Martinez doubled the lead after the break. However, despite feeling the absence of Lionel Messi, Argentina showed brilliant determination to fight back with goals from Lucas Pratto and Nicolas Otamendi rescuing a point. La Albiceleste have relinquished top spot in the CONMEBOL FIFA World Cup qualifying section, though, following Uruguay's 4-0 success over Paraguay.
FULL-TIME! The referee blows the final whistle and brings this pulsating second half to a close.
END-TO-END STUFF HERE! Both sides are going for the win as we enter three minutes of stoppage time. Di Maria is the latest player to try his luck, but an alert Hernandez beats the ball away before Argentina are flagged offside.
OFF THE POST! Venezuela are awarded a free-kick after Rondon is bundled over just inside their opponents' half. Anor dinks the ball into the box and an error from Romero presents a chance for Villanueva, who sees his shot from a tight angle rattle against the upright.
How crucial could that missed opportunity prove to be for the hosts? Argentina are finishing strongly and are looking the more likely to grab a winning goal in the dying minutes of this match...
CHANCE! Venezuela look to respond immediately and are awarded a free-kick by the touchline. Anor swings it into the area and Rondon gets there ahead of Romero, but cannot keep his header down.
N. Gaitán
M. Rojo
A third change from Argentina sees Nicolas Gaitan come on in place of Rojo, whose 50th cap comes to an end.
Á. Di María
Di Maria provided a delicious delivery into the box.
N. Otamendi
OTAMENDI - EQUALISER!!! From 2-0 down, Argentina have levelled the match with seven minutes remaining. Di Maria's corner was perfectly placed into the six-yard box, and the centre half showed the instincts of a centre forward as he pounced to volley home only his third international goal.
Y. Del Valle
J. Kouffaty
Kouffaty goes down with what appears to be a hamstring problem and, having only entered the action just three minutes ago, his second cap comes to an abrupt end as he is replaced by Yonathan Del Valle.
We are into the final 10 minutes of this FIFA World Cup qualifier and the hosts are still 2-1 to the good and approaching what would be a first victory of this campaign.
J. Kouffaty
Josef Martínez
A disappointing sight for Venezuela as Martínez picks up a knock and is unable to continue. Jacobo Kouffaty comes on to win just his second international cap.
WHY DIDN'T HE SHOOT?! Some space opens up for Pratto to run into the box. However, instead of pulling the trigger, he looks to come inside and find a pass before the ball is eventually gathered by Hernandez.
Ramiro Funes Mori
Yellow Card
Funes Mori has his name taken for a cynical challenge on Penaranda, who had embarked on a powerful, surging run into the heart of the Argentine defence.
There is a slight break in play as Vizcarrondo stays down and is in need of attention. The defender is earning his 78th international cap today - moving him outright fourth on his country's all-time list - and is soon back on his feet.
L. Alario
L. Biglia
All three strikers are on for the visitors as Lucas Alario comes on in place of defensive midfielder Biglia.
V. García
A. González
The hosts make their first change as González is replaced by Víctor García.
Correa will go straight up front alongside Pratto in an attempt to rescue a point at the very least for Argentina. The short, tricky Atletico Madrid forward will certainly compliment his partner's height. 
Á. Correa
E. Lamela
Bauza makes his first change of the day as the disappointing Lamela is withdrawn and replaced by Ángel Correa.
SMART SAVE! Hernandez shows very good reactions at his near post to beat away Di Maria's fierce effort from a tight angle. Can Venezuela weather the storm here?...
The visitors continue to build the pressure as they are awarded a succession of corners. However, Venezuela are allowed to breathe after Pratto is penalised for a foul on Hernandez.
All of a sudden, there is a lot more purpose in Argentina's play and they appear to have been sparked into life after pulling the goal back.
The ball hitting the back of the net was like a switch in the stadium because the raucous home fans suddenly fell silent as their side's lead was cut in half. They need to get behind the hosts now and this is a big final 30 minutes for them.
L. Pratto
NOT YET - PRATTO PULLS ONE BACK FOR ARGENTINA!!! Some very sloppy defending from the Veneuela defence allows the striker to poke the ball past Hernandez at his near post. That could be just the spark that La Albiceleste needed...
Venezuela are dancing in the rain at the moment! They appear rejuvenated under the management of Dudamel and, despite them picking up just one point from their opening seven qualifiers, could this be the turning point?
Josef Martínez
MARTINEZ MAKES IT 2-0!!! Argentina are in disarray as Rondon outmuscles the defence before sprinting into the penalty area. He then shows great awareness to pick out his strike partner, who takes a touch to compose himself and slides home his side's second goal that gives them breathing space.
S. Rondón
Rondon produced some great work down the left to set up the opportunity for Martinez.
Banega drives Argentina forward down the left flank and feeds the ball through for Di Maria to run onto. However, Velazquez reads the situation well and makes an important interception.
Incidentally, these two sides met in the quarter-finals of the Copa America Centenario in June. Argentina were comfortable 4-1 winners that day, but are yet to really fire so far here.
KICK-OFF! The referee blows his whistle and Venezuela get the ball rolling again in the second period.
HERE THEY COME! The players are making their way back out onto the pitch and the second half is not too far away...
Juan Pablo Anor's wonder goal is the difference between the sides at the break and you would not have thought that Venezuela are propping up the rest of the CONMEBOL in this FIFA World Cup Qualifying group. Argentina appear to be feeling the loss of Messi, as they struggled to produce consistency through the first half.
The referee blows the half-time whistle and Venezuela have the lead at the break!
Martinez plays his club football for Torino in Italy's Serie A and is one of a number of Venezuelans now plying their trade in some of Europe's top leagues. It is by exporting their best players that will improve the country's chances of a first-ever appearance at the FIFA World Cup Finals.
The hosts are finishing the half in a very strong manner. Martinez's pace is continuing to provide a highly dangerous outlet for them, as his hard work forces another corner in favour of La Vinotinto.
A. González
Yellow Card
Gonzalez is the first Venezuelan to be shown a yellow card today.
CLOSE! It was almost 2-0 as a square ball into the six-yard box was nearly tucked away by Martinez. A covering Zabaleta was in the right place at the right time to make a vital interception.
All of a sudden, Venezuela really have their tails up! That was an absolutely stunning goal from Anor - one that Messi would have been proud of - but the hosts need to continue their pressure while in the ascendancy.
J. Añor
WHAT A GOAL!!! VENEZUELA TAKE THE LEAD! And it's a strike to remember from Anor! After Rondon's cross is cleared away, the ball comes back to the Venezuelan number 11, who shows clever feet to skip away from a couple of challenges, before sweeping a wonderful effort in off the crossbar way beyond the reach of Romero. What a way to score your first international goal!
J. Mascherano
Yellow Card
Mascherano is the next player into the book for pulling the shirt of Rondon in an aerial tangle.
GOOD SAVE! Pratto makes his presence felt as he attacks a deep ball into the box and gets his header on target. Fortunately for Hernandez, it is right down his throat and straightforward enough to gather.
N. Otamendi
Yellow Card
Otamendi is the first player to have his name taken for a rash challenge just inside the Argentina half.
The Argentines are yet to really hit top gear in this match, although they were also slow out of the blocks in this qualifying campaign - picking up just two points from their opening three matches. However, they have turned things around and are now on a four-game winning streak.
Argentina enjoy a lengthy spell on the ball and take the opportunity to slow the pace down in an attempt to regain their superiority on the contest. They will be very wary of their opponents' threat.
Once again, it was the end-product that let the hosts down at the vital moment. They look very dangerous when breaking forward with pace, but a basic error like a stray five-yard pass is costing them the chance to make the most of their play.
NO PENALTY! Martinez's pace is causing Argentina problems at the back. He sprints and latches onto a ball inside the area before going down under a challenge from Otamendi. However, the striker is penalised for handball and replays show that the referee got the decision spot on.
Seconds after Rondon has a tame effort easily gathered by Romero, Di Maria looks to race in behind the Venezuela defence. However, he starts his run a fraction too early and the offside flag is raised.
CHANCE! Rojo advances down the left flank and lays off Di Maria, who sends a deep cross into the six-yard box, but a stretching Pratto cannot quite make the vital contact.
However, the hosts do have a decent foothold in this game at the moment. They are starting to find their rhythm over the past couple of minutes, with only the final ball letting them down.
NOT FAR AWAY! Argentina put a neat one-touch move together around 30 yards from goal in undoubtedly the best passage of play so far. A chance opens up for Banega to try his luck with a drilled effort that skids just wide of the far post.
The noise level inside the stadium rises in anticipation as Rondon looks to race onto a long ball over the top of the defence. He just began his run too early, though, and is rightly ruled offside.
The action is a little flat out there at the moment. Neither side are particularly flowing just after the 10-minute mark as short spells of possession frequently change hands.
Messi's absence is always notable for La Albiceleste, but he is just one of a number of key players not involved in this match. Others include Sergio Aguero, Gonzalo Higuain, Javier Pastore and Ezequiel Lavezzi. The likes of Lamela, Banega and Pratto will be looking to make the most of their opportunities here.
There is a slight break in play as the referee makes his way to an official on the touchline. The exact reason appears unclear although there was a laser visibly shining on some of the players a little earlier, so it may have been to address that.
STAT ATTACK: The Argentines should fancy their chances of claiming all three points from this game. They have won 11 of the 12 previous meeting between the sides, with Venezuela's only success coming in October 2011.
As expected, Argentina have started the brighter of the two sides here. They have already tested their opponents with a couple of set-piece opportunities and Bauza will be pleased so far.
KICK-OFF! The referee blows his whistle and Argentina get the match underway.
HERE THEY ARE! The teams are out on the pitch and the national anthems are currently being observed...
ARGENTINA SUBS: Guzman, Musacchio, Fernandez, Roncaglia, Mercado, Kranevitter, Gaitan, Correa, Alario, Mas, Demichelis, Andujar.
ARGENTINA (4-2-3-1): Romero; Zabaleta, Otamendi, Funes Mori, Rojo; Biglia, Mascherano; Lamela, Banega, Di Maria; Pratto.
Edgardo Bauza got off to a winning start as manager with an impressive 1-0 victory over Uruguay last time out. Although, it did come at a cost with Lionel Messi picking up an injury that rules him out of this game, while Paulo Dybala is suspended after being sent off for two first-half bookings. Erik Lamela and Ever Banega come into the starting 11 in two of three changes, with the other seeing Marcos Rojo return at left-back and the Manchester United defender wins his 50th cap here.
VENEZUELA SUBS: Farinez, Santos, Kouffaty, Garcia, Soteldo, Herrera, Del Valle, Chancellor, Agnel Flores, Ponce, Rosales, Contreras.
VENEZUELA (4-4-2): Hernandez; Gonzalez, Vizcarrondo, Velazquez, Villanueva; Anor, Arles Flores, Rincon (c), Penaranda; Rondon, Martinez.
The Venezuelans were beaten 2-0 by Colombia last time out and Rafael Dudamel has made four changes from that game. Two of them are enforced following the red cards shown to Wilker Angel and Rolf Feltscher, with Jose Manuel Velazquez and Mikel Villanueva taking their places in defence, while Alexander Gonzalez comes in at right-back and Arles Flores is selected in midfield. The hosts' main goal threat will be provided by West Bromwich Albion striker Salomon Rondon, who has netted in four of his last seven international appearances.
It is top versus bottom in South American qualifying group as Argentina look to potentially move four points clear at the summit, while Venezuela are desperate to close the 11-point deficit separating them from the top five.
Hello and welcome to LIVE text commentary of the CONMEBOL FIFA World Cup Qualifying section. We're at Estadio Olimpico Metropolitano de Merida today, as Venezuela host Argentina - it's good to have your company!