Lionel Messi’s Argentina suffers first loss since Qatar World Cup

Uruguay defeated Argentina 2-0 in World Cup qualifying match, marking their biggest victory

Argentina’s Lionel Messi looks dejected after losing the World Cup South American Qualifiers match to Uruguay at Estadio La Bombonera, Buenos Aires, Argentina on November 16, 2023. — Reuters

Argentina’s Lionel Messi failed to help maintain their unbeaten streak since the World Cup title, as Uruguay defeated Argentina 2-0 on Thursday in a World Cup qualifying match, marking their biggest victory under new coach Marcelo Bielsa.

Argentina suffered their first loss at La Bombonera Stadium in Buenos Aires in a competitive match since the group-stage opener against Saudi Arabia in the Qatar World Cup.

Despite this, Argentina leads the South American qualifying group with 12 points from five matches, trailing Uruguay with 10 points, Colombia with nine points, and Venezuela with eight points.

Brazil will host the World Cup champions at the Maracana Stadium in Rio de Janeiro in fifth position, with seven points, Sportstar reported.

Uruguay was aggressive from the start against the World Cup champions. Darwin Núnez nearly opened the scoring with a crossed shot in the 10th minute after a mistake by defender Nicolás Otamendi.

Argentina’s coach Lionel Scaloni appeared jittery during the match as his midfielders struggled to block Uruguay’s wingers.

In the 42nd minute, Matias Viña stole the ball from Nahuel Molina and made a low cross into the penalty box, which was scored by Ronald Araújo.

Near the end of the first half, Messi’s free-kick and Otamendi’s close-range strike gave Argentina a chance to tie the score, forcing Uruguay’s goalie Sergio Rochet to make a crucial save.

Uruguay maintained their pressure on Argentina even after the break, forcing the team to once more be dependent on Messi and replacement Angel di Maria to create its best opportunities.

Unfortunately, in the 57th minute, Messi attempted a free kick but missed.

In the 87th minute, Núnez scored in a counterattack after Messi was stopped by the Uruguayan defence at the edge of the box.

“We never felt comfortable in this match,” Messi said. “Uruguay is a physical team, they have good teamwork. It is always like that against them.”

Luis Suárez, Messi’s close friend, did not play for Uruguay in the World Cup qualifying round.

Uruguay beat Brazil by the same score in Montevideo and will play their next match against Bolivia.

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