Argentina conceded a first-half penalty but recovered to secure a 1-1 draw against Paraguay in the 2022 World Cup qualifiers in Buenos Aires on Thursday.
Angel Romero scored his third goal in three games when he coolly rolled home a penalty midway through the first half after Lucas Martinez Quarta was adjudged to have brought down Miguel Almiron.
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Nicolas Gonzalez equalised for Argentina four minutes before half-time when he bulleted a header home from a Giovani Lo Celso corner kick.
Lionel Messi scored what looked to be the go-ahead goal in the 57th minute, but it was chalked off by the referee following consultation with VAR.
VAR ruled out the Argentina goal due to a foul by Gonzalez on Romero that happened more than 50 metres from the goal. After the foul, Argentina built a play form the back with numerous touches that ended with Messi scoring from inside the box before it was overturned.
At the other end, Paraguay had a loud shout for a penalty turned down after the ball hit the arm of centre-back Nicolas Otamendi, who lamented Argentina’s luck after the game.
“I think in the first half we were a bit uncomfortable with the pressure but when we managed to pass the ball about and find spaces we spent almost the entire second period in their half of the field,” Otamendi said. “We got the goal but unfortunately it didn’t stand.”
The result leaves both South American sides unbeaten after three games in their quest to reach the finals in Qatar.
The top four in the 10-team South American qualifying section automatically make the finals, and the fifth-placed side go into an inter-regional play-off.
Argentina’s next game is away at Peru on Tuesday, while Paraguay take on bottom side Bolivia at home the same day.