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WC qualifiers: Argentina held by Chile; Aus win

June 04, 2021 13:13 IST
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Argentina's Lionel Messi and teammates look dejected after the match against Chile at Estadio Unico, Santiago del Estero in Argentina on Thursday

IMAGE: Argentina's Lionel Messi and teammates look dejected after the match against Chile at Estadio Unico, Santiago del Estero in Argentina on Thursday. Photograph: Agustin Marcarian/Pool via Reuters

Lionel Messi scored a first-half penalty for hosts Argentina before Chile's Alexis Sanchez equalised as their World Cup qualifier ended 1-1 on Thursday.

Messi converted from the spot midway through the first half after Guillermo Maripan brought down Lautaro Martinez in the box. Chile striker Sanchez levelled in the 37th minute, finishing off a cut back from Gary Medel.

 

Chile keeper Claudio Bravo made a world class save to keep the scores level just before halftime, tipping a Messi free kick round the post.

Messi also saw a free kick come off the woodwork in the second half.

The match in Santiago del Estero was Argentina’s first competitive outing since November and both sides looked rusty.

Argentina pushed forward as the game went on but Chile's rearguard was solid, even without their talismanic holding midfielder Arturo Vidal, who missed out after contracting COVID-19.

Messi almost snatched all three points in the last five minutes but his shots could not find a way past Bravo.

The draw means Argentina are unbeaten at home against Chile in 35 matches, and have gone 12 games without defeat since losing to Brazil in the 2019 Copa America semi-finals.

"The positive aspect is that this team always stands up to be counted, tries to attack," Argentina coach Lionel Scaloni. "They (Chile) practically never created any chances."

Argentina are second in the 10-team South America qualifying group for Qatar 2022 with 11 points from five games, a point behind Brazil, who play Ecuador on Friday.

Chile are sixth, with five points from five games.

The top four teams qualify automatically for Qatar while the fifth-placed side goes into an intercontinental play-off.

Colombia got their second win in the qualifiers, a 3-0 victory at last-placed Peru.

Yerry Mina put the visitors ahead five minutes before the break and Peru's task became even harder when Miguel Trauco was sent off for a second yellow card offence on the stroke of halftime.

Mateus Uribe made it 2-0 just four minutes into the second half and Luis DIaz added a third six minutes later.

Colombia moved into sixth while Peru remain the only one of the 10 teams still to record a win.

Earlier in the day, Bolivia beat Venezuela 3-1 at home and Uruguay and Paraguay drew 0-0 in Montevideo.

The top four teams in the 10-team group qualify automatically, and the fifth-placed side go into an intercontinental playoff.

Australia ease past Kuwait to maintain perfect record

Mathew Leckie and Jackson Irvine sent Australia on their way to a 3-0 win over Kuwait on Thursday as Graham Arnold's side took a huge stride towards booking their place in the third phase of Asia's qualifying tournament for the 2022 World Cup.

Playing in their first game in more than 18 months due to the pandemic, Leckie showed the Socceroos had lost none of their sharpness by giving the Australians the lead with a header less than two minutes into the game.

Irvine doubled his side's advantage in the 23rd minute when he slotted home on the rebound after Martin Boyle had seen his penalty saved by Sulaiman Abdulghafoor.

Ajdin Hrustic added the third midway through the second half with a curling free kick to claim his first goal for the Socceroos in style.

The win was Australia's fifth in a row in Group B as they moved five points clear of Kuwait and Jordan, who did not play on Thursday.

Only the eight group winners in the second round of preliminaries are guaranteed to advance to the next phase alongside the four runners-up with the best records.

In Group C, Iran notched up a 3-1 win over Hong Kong but remain in third on nine points after Bahrain handed Cambodia an 8-0 thrashing that took Helio Sousa's side into pole position, one point ahead of Iraq who did not play on Thursday.

Ali Gholizadeh put Iran in front against Hong Kong from the tightest of angles before Vahid Amiri doubled the lead with a deflected shot 16 minutes into the second half.

Karim Ansarifard's close range effort put the result beyond doubt.

Ali Mabkhout and Fabio de Lima scored a brace apiece in the United Arab Emirates' 4-0 win over Malaysia in Group G allowing Bert van Marwijk's side to pull level with the South East Asians on nine points.

The UAE are now two points behind leaders Vietnam and their hopes of qualifying were boosted by Thailand's 2-2 draw with already-eliminated Indonesia.

That result also moves Akira Nishino's team onto nine points, although the Thais have played one game more than the other teams in the group.

Singapore's hopes in Group D suffered a serious blow when they shipped three goals in the opening 30 minutes against Palestine, with Tamer Seyam scoring twice from the penalty spot as the west Asians eventually ran out 4-0 winners.

World Cup hosts Qatar, playing in the qualifiers as they double up as preliminaries for the 2023 Asian Cup, moved seven points clear of Oman at the top of Group E with a 1-0 win over India thanks to a first-half goal from Abdulaziz Hatem.

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Source: REUTERS
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