Bolivia frustrate Lionel Messi`s Argentina again
Buenos Aires: Bolivia frustrated Lionel Messi`s Argentina for the second time in four months when they held them to a 1-1 draw in their World Cup qualifier on Friday.
The result left Argentina with four points from three matches after last month`s 4-1 home win over Chile and shock 1-0 defeat away to Venezuela. Bolivia picked up their first point having previously lost to Uruguay and Colombia.
"It hurts us to draw, we know that here (at home) we can`t let any points escape," Messi told reporters.
"It`s important to win at home because that makes everything easier, a draw makes it more difficult. Now we must get a good result in Colombia."
Argentina play Colombia away on Tuesday.
Messi`s side, held 1-1 by the Bolivians in their opening Copa America match in nearby La Plata in July, had to come from behind again to deny their modest opponents a first victory on Argentine soil after conceding against the run of play.
Striker Marcelo Martins stunned the 30,000 crowd at a sun-drenched Monumental when he robbed Martin Demichelis, then turned the central defender twice in the box and shot high past goalkeeper Sergio Romero in the 55th minute.
It was Bolivia`s first goal in Argentina in a qualifier since 1996.
"Bolivia had a great match, I think we would have deserved to win," Martins said in a televised interview.
Argentina struggled to break down the packed Bolivia defence, although they did have the ball in the net in the first half but it was disallowed after the referee called back play due to a foul on Messi.
Messi had been brought down but still managed to pass to Gonzalo Higuain, who shot under Bolivia goalkeeper Carlos Arias from a narrow angle.
"(The referee`s decision) surprised us all, didn`t it?" said Messi. "It would have changed everything, with the 1-0 (lead) it would have been very different."
Almost immediately after Bolivia`s opener, Argentina coach Alejandro Sabella took off midfielder Ricky Alvarez and brought on striker Ezequiel Lavezzi, who equalised with his second touch four minutes later.
Messi fed Fernando Gago on the right, the midfielder passed to Lavezzi, who touched the ball away from a defender and scored with a left-footed shot inside the far post.
"Today the goal (we conceded) was the result of an individual error and not a tactical failing," Sabella told the post-match news conference.
Lavezzi also brought a save out of Arias at the base of his left-hand post and the goalkeeper also parried a stinging shot from Javier Pastore.
Messi had a chance in front of goal but sent the ball well wide with an uncharacteristic miss-hit.
Lavezzi could have won the match for Argentina with eight minutes to go but his diving header went wide.