May 21, 2013
Bolivia frustrate Messi's Argentina again in qualifier
Bolivia frustrated Argentina for the second time in four months when they held them 1-1 in their World Cup qualifier on Friday.
The result left Argentina with four points from three matches after last month's 4-1 home win over Chile and shock 1-0 defeat away to Venezuela.
Lionel Messi's side, also held 1-1 by the Bolivians in their opening Copa America match in nearby La Plata in July, had to come from behind again to deny their modest opponents a first victory on Argentine soil.
Striker Marcelo Martins stunned the 30,000 crowd at a sun-drenched Monumental when he robbed Martin Demichelis then turned the central defender twice in the box on the left and shot high past goalkeeper Sergio Romero in the 55th minute.
Coach Alejandro Sabella almost immediately took off a midfielder, Ricky Alvarez, and brought on striker Ezequiel Lavezzi, who equalised with his second touch four minutes later.
Messi fed Fernando Gago on the right, the midfielder passed forward to Lavezzi who ran towards the left along the edge of the box, touching the ball away from a defender then shooting left-footed inside the far post.
"Bolivia had a great match, I think we would have deserved to win," Martins told a TV reporter on the pitch after the final whistle.
Lavezzi also brought Carlos Arias to a save at the base of his left-hand post and the goalkeeper parried a stinging shot from Javier Pastore.
As Argentina desperately sought a winning goal, Messi had a chance in front of goal but was guilty of an uncharacteristic mis-hit and the ball went well wide.
Lavezzi could have won the match for Argentina with eight minutes to go but his diving header was wide from Pablo Zabaleta's right cross.
Pastore had another good chance coming in from the right but he shot hurriedly over the bar from a tight angle when a pass into the middle to Lavezzi would have been the better option.
Argentina: Sergio Romero; Pablo Zabaleta, Martín Demichelis, Nicolás Burdisso and Clemente Rodríguez; Fernando Gago, Javier Mascherano and Ricardo Álvarez; Lionel Messi, Gonzalo Higuaín, Javier Pastore. Coach: Alejandro Sabella
Bolivia: Carlos Arias; Christian Vargas, Luis Méndez, Ronald Rivero and Luis Gutiérrez; Edivaldo Rojas, Walter Flores, Jaime Robles and Ruddy Cardozo; Pablo Escobar; Augusto Andaveris or Marcelo Moreno Martins. Coach: Gustavo Quinteros.
Referee: Carlos Alfredo Vera (Ecuador).
Stadium: Antonio Vespucio Liberti (Monumental), River Plate.