(MENAFN – Alghad Newspaper) Buenos Aires – Argentine star Lionel Messi and his former Barcelona teammate, Uruguayan Luis Suarez, led their two countries to beating Ecuador and Chile 1-0 and 2-1, respectively, at the start of the South American qualifiers for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.
The Kunmebol region qualifiers began after a delay of six months due to the outbreak of the new Corona virus. 10 teams will participate in the qualifiers, 4 of which will qualify directly for the finals, with the fifth-placed team participating in the play-offs.
At the famous “La Bombonera” stadium in Boca Juniors’ Buenos Aires, and in front of empty stands, Messi scored the game’s only goal from a penalty kick in the 13th minute after winger Lucas Ocampos was blocked in the area by Estobinian. Messi raised the number of his international goals to 71 in 139 games for his country.
Messi said after the match, “We knew that things would be complicated, but the most important thing is that we started the qualifiers with victory and now we have to continue working to improve our level.”
He added, “The World Cup qualifying matches are always difficult. There has been a long time in which we did not play any games for the national team, and therefore the mental anxiety factor increased the complexity of the match.”
He continued, “We hope that the victory has contributed to the return of smiles to the Argentine people in these difficult circumstances.”
Argentina fell 0-2 against Ecuador at home at the start of the FIFA World Cup Russia 2018 qualifiers, and in the same qualifiers, they needed a hat-trick from Messi against Ecuador (3-1) in the final round of the qualifiers to reach the finals.
Despite the individual and collective titles he won with Barcelona, Messi was unable to lead his country to any title, as he fought the Copa America final three times and lost all of them (twice against Chile and once against Brazil), as well as losing the 2014 World Cup final against Germany with one goal after the extension . The World Cup in Qatar will be the last opportunity for him to be crowned world champion, knowing that he will play him in the event of his country’s national team at the age of thirty-five.
The Argentine national team acquired the ball with a high percentage, but failed to penetrate the organized Ecuadorian defense, which relied on the physical factor to stop the attacks of the owners of the land.
His most prominent opportunity was in the second half when the ball reached Inter Milan striker Lautaro Martinez, who passed the ball towards Ocampos, but the Ecuadorian goalkeeper blocked his attempt.
On the other hand, the Bolivian national team, led by Argentine coach Gustavo Alvaro in his first official match, did not pose any danger to Argentina, and his striker Werner Valencia appeared isolated and the offensive changes made by the team with the participation of Eduardo Salvio and Lucas Olario did not help in enhancing the efficiency in the front line of the guests.
Alvaro highlighted the performance of his players despite the defeat, at a time when he considered that “the match turned after a controversial game.”
At a press conference after the match ended, Alvaro said, “I really liked what the team did. It was organized and was offensive. The match turned after a controversial game. For me there was no penalty.”
After questioning the validity of the penalty kick that awarded the victory to the opponent, the Ecuadorean coach spoke about the future as his team hosts Uruguay on October 13, and said, “It is a day to draw conclusions and focus on the positive things that have been accomplished in a short time at work.”
“We may win or lose in a match, but the team’s position is not a matter for discussion. We will try to apply the same amount of pressure against Uruguay, and we have to choose the players better for this confrontation,” he stressed
In Montevideo, new Atletico Madrid striker Luis Suarez led the Uruguay national team to a difficult 2-1 victory over Chile, scoring the opening goal from the penalty kick, boosting his record of international goals in the ranks of his country to 60 goals after Sebastian Vega’s handball inside the area.
Inter Milan striker Alexis Sanchez equalized for Chile with a creeping shot (54), but the last word was for Maxi Gomez, who fired a powerful shot from 18 meters into the net, giving the victory to his country.
The Uruguayan national team missed its veteran striker Edinson Cavani (33 years), who was recently transferred to the ranks of Manchester United, because he has not played any games in the last six months.
Chilean coach, Colombian Reynaldo Rueda, praised his team’s good play and dedication that he showed during the match, and this came in a press conference after the match, where the coach refused to comment on the use of the “Var” video refereeing technique, through which Uruguay got a penalty kick.
However, midfielder Jose as Fuenzalida commented on the referee in the match, saying: “We performed well, but I am very painful because of the situations that occurred, because of the entitlements that hurt us and this was not an accident. It seems to me that there were not enough standards on my part.” The master who wears yellow, ”referring to the Paraguayan referee Aquino needles.
The player noted that Chile deserved a “better result”, but he was pleased with what the team had done on the pitch.
In addition, Uruguay coach Oscar Washington Tabarez highlighted his team’s “never lost” style in their confrontation with Chile.
“We have achieved our goal,” the coach, nicknamed “the Maestro”, said after the match on Thursday evening, stressing that what matters in a match in a qualifying stage like this is to score the three points.
Tabarez spoke about the match his opponent fought, and said that the Chilean team showed more strength in the second half than its Uruguayan counterpart, but “some of the players who entered contributed a lot.”
In a third match, Paraguay and Peru tied 2-2 in Asunción. Angel Romero scored the goals of Paraguay (66 and 81), and Andre Carrillo scored the goals of Peru (53 and 85).
Paraguay coach Eduardo Berezo admitted his team had “defensive deficiencies” that allowed Peru to equalize five minutes before the match ended.
After the match ended, the Argentine coach said, “We did not defend well in two decisive games, which were among the few opportunities created by Peru. The second goal was more painful because we were able to reverse the result.”
Despite the draw, Perezo expressed his optimism and highlighted the “courage” his players showed in some difficult moments during the match.
The coach considered the opponent “tough” and showed “defensive coordination” that took Paraguay offensive.
Regarding the next leg of the Paraguayan national team in the qualifiers, which will be in Venezuela on October 13th, Berezo focused on “correcting mistakes,” which he described among them the lack of experience and the inability to maintain the result, and said in defense of his players, “We are a young team that includes young players. They need to learn from their mistakes. “
For his part, Peruvian coach Ricardo Garica confirmed that his squad had encountered difficulties in adapting to play against the landlords, whom he described as “a very difficult opponent.”
“Adjusting in the first half was hard,” the Argentine coach said in a press conference after the match, noting that in his opinion, this was mainly due to the opponent’s strength.
Garica noted that Paraguay played in a “more aggressive” and “more sustainable” manner in the first half of the match, without the Peruvians abandoning their attacking attempts and the playing style that distinguished them.
Garica added that the two teams were trying to win the match, and that he was satisfied with the performance of his players against a strong opponent like Paraguay.
On the Peruvian confrontation with Brazil next Tuesday, Garica said, “We are ready for that.” – (Agencies)
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