Argentina and Chile share the spoils in World Cup qualification clash
Argentina and Chile settled for a draw after both sides put up even performances in their latest World Cup qualifying outing. Lionel Messi netted a penalty in the first half before Alexis Sanchez equalized for Chile in the 1-1 draw on Thursday.
Just before the match, a statue of Diego Maradona, who died last November, was unveiled outside the Unico Madres de Ciudades stadium in Santiago del Estero.
After Guillermo Maripan pulled down Lautaro Martinez in the box, Messi converted from the spot midway through the first half. In the 37th minute, Chile striker Sanchez equalized, finishing off a cut back from Gary Medel.
The score could have changed but Chile goalkeeper Claudio Bravo made a world-class save to keep Messi freekick and leave the score level right before half time.
This was Argentina’s first competitive encounter since November and it was pretty obvious, with both teams looking edgy and rusty.
Argentina pressed forward as the game progressed, but Chile’s defence held firm, even without talismanic holding midfielder Arturo Vidal, who was forced to withdraw due to COVID-19.
In the final five minutes of the game, Messi came close to stealing all three points, but he couldn’t get past Bravo.
Argentina have now gone 35 games without losing at home against Chile. Overall, Lionel Messi and company have gone 12 games unbeaten since falling to Brazil in the 2019 Copa America semi-finals.
Argentina are four points behind Brazil in the 10-team South American qualification group for Qatar 2022, with 11 points from five games. With five points after five games, Chile find themselves in seventh place.
The top four teams advance to Qatar directly, but the fifth-placed must compete in an intercontinental playoff.