No Lionel Messi? No problem! Angel Di Maria and Enzo Fernandez make Argentina forget about Inter Miami star's absence in World Cup qualifying win against Bolivia

Enzo Fernandez Argentina 2023Getty
  • Fernandez, Tagliafico and Gonzalez scored
  • Bolivia had player sent off
  • Argentina won without star player Messi

TELL ME MORE: Absent from the matchday squad, Lionel Messi watched on from the sidelines as his Albiceleste team-mates won their second qualifying match, taking them top of the table. Fernandez nipped in to meet Angel Di Maria's cross to put his team into the lead just after the half-hour mark.

Shortly afterwards, Bolivia found themselves down to 10 men when Roberto Fernandez was sent off for a second yellow card just 20 minutes after receiving his first for another foul. Argentina capitalised on that advantage almost immediately as Tagliafico was found unmarked in the box by Di Maria and nodded in to double his team's lead. The visitors then enhanced their cushion towards the end when Nico Gonzalez found the net with a nice finish after taking on a pass from Exequiel Palacios.

THE MVP: Despite a sloppy start with some wayward passes, stand-in captain Di Maria emerged as the hero in Messi's absence by carving out two excellent chances for the goals. He was important out of possession, too, as the Benfica hero chased down the Bolivia players to try to win the ball back for his team.

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THE BIG LOSER: Bolivia's difficult job was made all but impossible once Fernandez went off in the first half, as was shown by Argentina putting the game beyond doubt shortly after he was sent down the tunnel with his second booking.


Enzo Fernandez Bolivia Argentina 2023Getty

Argentina celebrate Bolivia 2023Getty

Angel Di Maria Bolivia Argentina 2023Getty

WHAT NEXT? While Messi and the likes return to club action, Argentina coach Lionel Scaloni will begin preparing for next month's qualifying match against Paraguay.