The absence of Lionel Messi who is the captain of Argentina did not affect the performance of the national team. Though Chile enjoyed most of the ball possession (60 percent) and more shots (13 against Argentina’s 7), Argentina were able to beat their host within the first 45 minutes.
Paris Saint Germain star Angel Di Maria gave Argentina the lead in the 9th minute of the game. In the 20th minute, 22-year-old Blackburn Rovers striker Ben Brereton canceled out Di Maria’s goal.
In the 34th minute of the match, Inter Milan star Lautaro Martinez restored Argentina’s lead to force the game to end in a 2-1 victory.
No Messi, no problem early on for Argentina vs. Chile in World Cup qualifying. Angel Di Maria scores on a moment of class for the already-qualified Albiceleste 👀— Planet Fútbol (@si_soccer) January 28, 2022
(via @fubotv) pic.twitter.com/VeFnyFcq1J
Before the game, Argentina that is currently sitting on the second spot in South America 2022 FIFA World Cup qualifier table, have already booked their place for the football tournament.
Chile was expected to beat the South America giants to increase their chances of qualifying for the World Cup but could not. Hence, they have a very high possibility of losing out of the tournament.
The next stop for Argentina is a World Cup qualifier match against Columbia. The match is scheduled to kick off at 00:30 on Wednesday, February 2, 2022. As for Chile, their next game is against Bolivia. The match is expected to kick off at 21:00 on February 1, 2022.
Before Argentina defeated Chile 2-1 earlier today, coach Lionel Scaloni told reporters on Wednesday that Lionel Messi was not named in the squad that faced Chile and that which would face Colombia because the Argentine football icon is still battling to recover from covid-19.
Recall that Lionel Messi has been battling with Covid-19 since December 2021. He has however returned to competitive football at his club, Paris Saint Germain. He played for the first time this year from the bench on Sunday, in PSG’s 4-0 win over Reims.
But that was not enough to include him in the Argentine squad for the two World Cup qualifiers. Ahead of the game, coach Scaloni said: “Clearly we would love to have Messi here with us.
“I spoke to him and he told me that Covid hit him hard. It is key for him to get well, and that is why I decided that the best option was for him to stay at his club.”
Unfortunately for the Argentina national team, it was not only Lionel Messi that was not available for the World Cup qualifier, the coach was not also available. He tested positive for coronavirus before the game.