Argentina has extended its unbeaten run to 29 games after Lautaro Martinez’s 29th-minute strike earned them a 1-0 World Cup qualifying victory over Colombia in Cordoba.
Martinez scored his 19th international goal from Marcos Acuna’s pass, giving Argentina 35 points from 15 qualifiers and 13 wins in their last 15 games.
La Albiceleste were missing talisman Lionel Messi but welcomed head coach Lionel Scaloni back to the touchline after COVID-19.
And he would have been satisfied with his team’s performance, which was much in charge throughout.
Colombia’s shaky qualification campaign, which has gone seven games without a win or a goal, is at risk.
They struggled to keep possession and mustered few severe chances for a goal against Argentina.
Argentina’s defence has kept five clean sheets in their last five home qualifiers.
Messi’s PSG teammate Angel Di Maria, who was dangerous throughout, curled a shot past Colombia goalkeeper Camilo Vargas’ goal in the 16th minute.
In the 29th minute, Vargas could not prevent Argentina from going ahead.
When Inter forward, Martinez trapped Acuna’s cross inside the box and lashed home, squirming under the goalkeeper’s grasp.
Colombia almost equalised on the stroke of half-time, with Luis Diaz putting up Miguel Borja, who Emiliano Martinez denied.
German Pezzella cleared the new Liverpool signing’s follow-up effort off the line.
Acuna forced a good save from Vargas early in the second half.
At the same time, the Colombian goalkeeper made a better block with his outstretched right arm to deny Di Maria from range in the 65th minute.
Giovani Lo Celso left Tottenham for Villarreal on loan on deadline day.
Flashed a chance over the bar as Argentina survived a late scare from Johan Mojico’s shot.
Which almost caused Nicolas Gonzalez own goal, although that would not have counted due to offside.
Argentina should have grabbed a second in the 94th minute when Gonzalez broke in behind.
However, he chose to square for Paulo Dybala, giving the Colombian defence time to clear.
What lies ahead for Argentina and Colombia?
Argentina stays second in the table, extending their unbeaten run in all competitions to 29 games.
Their next qualifier is against Venezuela in March.
Colombia’s run without a goal and a winning stretch to seven games.
They’ve slipped to seventh, now three points off the play-off place with Peru still to play.
It’s a big game for them against Bolivia next time out.
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