Messi's penalty keeps Argentine hopes alive
Argentina remain in the 2019 Copa America by the skin of their teeth following Wednesday night’s 1-1 draw against Paraguay in Belo Horizonte.
Lionel Scaloni’s side couldn’t afford another defeat after last weekend’s 2-0 loss against Colombia in Salvador.
However, La Albiceleste were unconvincing once again against the Paraguayans and found themselves 1-0 down at half-time thanks to Richard Sanchez’s opener.
Fortunately Argentina have the world’s best footballer - where on earth would they be without him? Lionel Messi put his nation back on level terms shortly before the hour-mark from the penalty spot.
But Messi wasn’t Argentina’s biggest hero of the night. That honour fell to goalkeeper Franco Armani, who saved a penalty from Derlis Gonzalez minutes later.
Earlier in the match, with Argentina already 1-0 down, Paraguay’s players demanded a straight red card after the River Plate ‘keeper kicked Gonzalez roughly 40 yards from his goal line.
He was somewhat fortunate to only receive a yellow card for the incident. Armani more than made amends with his contribution in the second half, however. As some people have pointed out on social media, he may have saved Argentina from another Messi retirement.
A humiliating group-stage exit may have been enough to convince Messi to retire from international football for good. But as things stand, Argentina’s fate is now in their own hands.
Beat Qatar in Porto Alegre this weekend and they’ll almost certainly qualify for the knockout stages - two of the three third-placed teams from the three groups also advance to the next round.
Argentina need another hero on Sunday - and there are no prizes for correctly guessing which player they’ll be looking to for inspiration.