Lionel Messi and Argentina brushed Uruguay aside in their World Cup qualifier.
Goals from Lionel Messi, Rodrigo De Paul and Lautaro Martinez secured all three points for the Copa America champions. La Albiceleste returned to winning ways following a goalless draw against Paraguay last week.
Lionel Scaloni’s men saw some good chances go to waste in the first half hour. However, quickfire goals from Messi and De Paul towards the end of the opening stanza put Argentina firmly in the driving seat.
Then, in the 67th minute, Lautaro Martinez joined the act with a simple finish at the near post, putting the tie beyond Uruguay’s reach.
Despite a number of positive changes by Oscar Tabarez, the Celeste failed to get anything meaningful going in attack. Prolific marksman Luis Suarez was also guilty of missing two good chances early on.
The defeat was Uruguay’s third of the campaign. Having drawn against Colombia last week as well, Tabarez’s men have dropped to fourth in the standings with 16 points, six behind Argentina in second.
Here are the major talking points from the match:
#1 Uruguay blown away by ‘Messi Magic’
Lionel Messi celebrates scoring Argentina’s first goal against Uruguay.
Like a quintessential big-game player, Lionel Messi inspired his side to a huge victory in another top-billing qualifying clash. He was the source of most of their chances on the night and started the onslaught with a really amusing goal too.
The PSG ace looped a cross inside the area, supposedly for Martinez to latch onto. But it took a bounce and calmly rolled into the back of the net, evading the Inter Milan striker as well as Diego Godin. It even caught Uruguayan custodian Fernando Muslera off-guard.
The goal came in unusual circumstances, with Messi laughing it off as he wheeled away in celebration. Argentina didn’t mind as they were finally in front and never conceded the momentum going forward.
La Pulga, too, never looked back, lifting the Copa America champions with his playmaking wizardry. He laid out three key passes and created one big chance in the match.
Uruguay simply had no answer to Messi’s magic on the night.
#2 Uruguay hopelessly exposed at the back by Argentina
Uruguay were shambolic defensively against Argentina. Lionel Messi celebrates scoring Argentina’s opener.
All three goals Uruguay conceded today were a result of sloppy defending. It was totally uncharacteristic of a side that has built much of their success in the last decade on a stoic backline.
Messi’s goal was the most amusing of them all and was just the start. A failed clearance from the Argentine captain’s cross soon after the opener saw the ball fall into the path of De Paul. The midfielder made no mistake from 15 yards to put his side 2-0 up.
The Celeste were just all over the place for both goals but the worst was yet to come in the second-half. Lautaro Martinez, who missed about three chances in the opening stanza, was completely unmarked on the right when Giovani Lo Celso’s pass came in. He then slammed it home for Argentina’s third.
Uruguay’s poor man-marking for that one was shocking. But then again, the nature of all three of Argentina’s goals tonight demonstrated a lack of defensive solidity in the side.
#3 Emiliano Martinez delivers goalkeeping masterclass
There was no way past Emiliano Martinez.
Emiliano Martinez‘s talents are there for all to see and today the Argentina goalkeeper chose to remind everyone of his insane shot-stopping skills. Martinez was equal to everything thrown at him by the Celeste and fully deserved his clean-sheet.
During a testing first-half, Suarez was a menace for the hosts, but thanks to Martinez, the Atletico Madrid star’s efforts never came to fruition. In the seventh minute, the Aston Villa custodian pulled off an incredible double save. He first parried away Suarez’s powerful shot and then kept out Federico Valverde on the rebound with another great stop.
Suarez came back at him a while later with an astonishing scissor-kick. But Martinez, unfazed, produced strong hands to parry the effort and protect Argentina’s lead.
Martinez was more relaxed after the break as the momentum fizzled out a little. But the 29-year-old remained vigilant and commanded his area with great authority to bag an impressive clean-sheet.
#4 Uruguay’s drought continues
Uruguay still haven’t won away to Argentina in the World Cup qualifiers.
Uruguay are a really good side but had never managed to beat Argentina on Argentine soil in the World Cup qualifiers. The drought continued today with another lackluster display that didn’t yield any goals either.
Luis Suarez was lively during the opening stages but a combination of poor finishing and excellent goalkeeping from Martinez frustrated him throughout.
With a decline in form after the break, the Celeste struggled to conjure clear-cut chances. The game was then put beyond their reach after Lautaro Martinez added a third goal in the second half.
What is even more damning is that Oscar Tabarez’s side failed to score for the second game running. They had also been held to a goalless stalemate by Colombia in last week’s qualifying fixture.
As things stand, they’ve netted only 13 times in 11 games in the campaign, conceding an identical number of goals too. If the 2011 Copa America champions want to finish higher, then something has to be done about their incapability at both ends of the pitch.
#5 Argentina shaping up well for Qatar 2022
Argentina bounced back from their draw to Paraguay with a resounding victory
For the third time in their last four games, Argentina netted thrice in a match, and for the third consecutive game, they kept a clean sheet. All of this shows Lionel Scaloni’s side are shaping up well for next year’s World Cup.
With Lionel Messi in inspired form and the rest of the bunch also stepping up in recent times, Scaloni and his staff will be happy campers.
Argentina ended their long wait for an international trophy with Copa America success earlier this year. The swashbuckling team are now putting up an excellent qualifying campaign for next year’s showpiece event as well.
Even though arch-rivals Brazil are still some way ahead of them in the standings, such form would inspire confidence going into 2022. Argentina now have their sights on World Cup glory for the first time since 1986.