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Thursday, 20 June 2019

Copa America 2019

Lionel Messi converts penalty to salvage draw for Argentina against Paraguay



It's only fitting that Argentina's first goal of its 2019 Copa America campaign came from Lionel Messi after video assistant referee awarded him a penalty kick. 

Lionel Messi and Argentina survived the Paraguay test, only just. The Albiceleste were given yet another shock when they went behind to their South American rivals in the first half. However, a Messi penalty, followed by an Armani penalty save ensured that Argentina remain in the competition. 

Messi swept in a 57th-minute spot-kick at Belo Horizonte's Mineirao Stadium to cancel out a first-half opener from Paraguay's Richard Sanchez.

Argentina also had goalkeeper Franco Armani to thank for a second half penalty save that prevented Paraguay from taking a 2-1 lead in the Group B battle.

After review, officials ruled a handball in the box against Paraguay and awarded Argentina the penalty. If not for that, Paraguay easily should have walked away with all three points. 

Richard Sanchez and Miguel Almiron collaborated to give Paraguay a 1-0 lead in the 37th minute on the counterattack following a free kick for Argentina, then had a golden opportunity to retake the lead with a penalty kick of its own in the 63rd minute.

Lionel Messi held his nerve to successfully convert from the penalty spot to rescue a point for Argentina against Paraguay as their chances of reaching the quarter-finals of the 2019 Copa America hang by a thread.

Argentina were also indebted to goalkeeper Franco Armani, who saved Derlis Gonzalez's second-half penalty.



The chance appeared to have gone begging but VAR had spotted that Martinez's shot had in fact struck Ivan Piris's arm before hitting the bar and Brazilian referee Wilson Sampaio pointed to the spot.

Messi stepped up to sweep in the spot-kick and Argentina were level.
Yet there was more drama in the 62nd minute when Paraguay's Gonzalez burst into the box and was clumsily hacked down by Nicolas Otamendi for a clear penalty.

The 1-1 draw in Belo Horizonte leaves Argentina bottom of Group B on one point from two games played. Leaders Colombia, on six points, sealed their safe passage to the last eight with a 1-0 win over tournament guests Qatar, while Paraguay sit second on two points after successive draws.

However, with the two best third-placed teams advancing to the quarter-finals, Argentina can still reach the quarter-finals with a decisive win over Qatar in their final group game.

Messi, presented with a one-on-one against Fernandez from 12 yards, stroked the ball home for his 68th Argentina goal in 132 games.

The drama did not end there though. Armani, who could count himself lucky to still be on the pitch, guessed the right way to parry Gonzalez's 62nd-minute penalty after the Paraguay striker had been hacked down in the area by Nicolas Otamendi.

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