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Argentina v Venezuela Live Commentary, 26/03/22

3 - 0
N. González (35)
Á. Di María (79)
L. Messi (82)
Estadio Alberto José Armando


That concludes our commentary of the CONMEBOL World Cup qualifying fixture between Argentina and Venezuela! We hope you’ve enjoyed it!
Argentina are in action again on March 29, when they travel to face Ecuador. Venezuela’s campaign ends at home against Colombia on the same day.
An impressive Argentina turn their statistical dominance into goals with a comfortable 3-0 win at La Bombonera. Despite looking the superior side from the outset, it took the Albiceleste a little while to really trouble Farinez, with lots of possession in midfield failing to translate into shots on target. Nicolas Gonzalez would set things right 10 minutes from half however with a sliding close-range finish following a De Paul cross. The second half followed in much a similar pattern, with the hosts forcing their opponents to chase for the majority of the action. Di Maria’s introduction at the 70th minute would really end the match as a contest however with the PSG winger contributing a goal and an assist for Messi in just 12 minutes on the pitch. Venezuela slump to their fourth defeat in five matches with a poor showing in which they offered very little going forward. The result keeps the Vinotinto bottom of the table. Argentina stay second - four behind Brazil.
90' + 2' Argentina use a throw-in near the Venezuela corner-flag to try and fashion an attack as opposed to keeping possession but Di Maria’s eagerness leads him to stray just offside.
90' The fourth official indicates four minutes will be added to the end of the 90 for stoppages.
G. Rodríguez
L. Paredes
88' Guido Rodriguez is sent into midfield to maintain the clean sheet as Paredes makes way.
L. Boyé
N. González
87' A late change sees Boye sent on for goal scorer Nicolas Gonzalez.
87' Messi’s goal against Venezuela is his 81st in 159 caps, taking him 27 strikes above the Seleccion’s second-highest scorer, Gabriel Batistuta.
85' Argentina now feel comfortable just keeping the ball in midfield and moving it from side to side with five minutes left, as Di Maria and Messi’s goals have added to the sense of calm. Aside from the clean sheet it’s job done for Scaloni’s side.
J. Savarino
S. Rondón
83' Rondon comes off for Savarino with six minutes left as the result strays further and further from the visitors.
Á. Di María
82' A goal and an assist in just 12 minutes of action for Di Maria, who beat his man with crafty footwork before finding Messi in space.
L. Messi
82' A FANTASTIC THIRD! 3-0! Two Paris Saint-Germain players link up as Di Maria takes on a defender inside the penalty area before winning space and sending a chip towards the penalty spot. Messi reads his team-mate’s intentions and stays onside to control the ball with his chest before hitting a miscued shot into the open goal!
R. De Paul
79' De Paul registers his second assist of the match with a lovely pass sprayed long for Di Maria to latch on to.
Á. Di María
79' DI MARIA DOUBLES THE ADVANTAGE! 2-0! It took the winger just nine minutes to come on and score, getting on the end of De Paul’s pass hit over the top of midfield before drawing the goalkeeper off his line and lobbing Farinez!
79' Messi again looks for the near corner after apparently spotting Farinez too far to his left-hand post but the captain is unable to hit the target as he wraps it around the outside of the frame of the goal.
D. Machís
Y. Herrera
77' Venezuela make a change prior to the taking of the set-piece as Herrera is replaced by Machis.
77' Aristegueita goes lunging into a tackle despite having no chance at the ball, bringing De Paul down right in front of the referee. It’s another free-kick for Argentina, who haven’t quite wrapped up the result yet.
75' The ole’s are reigning down from the stands at La Bombonera as Argentina keep possession effectively in midfield, forcing their opponents to chase the ball with 15 minutes left. It’ been a tough evening for the visitors, who are still holding out hope for an equaliser against the run of play.
73' Nicolas Gonzalez’s goal is his first for Argentina since November 17, 2020, in a 2-0 win over Peru in Lima. It is his third in total for his nation.
R. Rosales
Yellow Card
71' The yellow cards keep coming as Venezuela's frustration increases. It's a nasty sliding tackle from Rosales that catches Nicolas Gonzales on the leg - earning the right-back a booking.
Á. Di María
A. Mac Allister
70' Mac Allister is indeed the man to make way as Di Maria is introduced.
Y. Herrera
Yellow Card
69' Herrera cynically sticks out a leg and catches Messi, sending him over. It's a yellow card for the aggressive midfielder.
68' Messi scoops the free-kick into the penalty area looking for the head of a team-mate but he's unable to bea tthe first man as Aristeguieta heads it away powerfully.
J. Chancellor
Yellow Card
67' Chancellor is shown a yellow card for pushing Angel Correa over just outside the penalty area, with the substitute looking to involve himself immediately.
66' It appears as though the Argentina coach is unsatisfied with his side’s one-goal lead as he calls Di Maria up from the bench and instructs him to get ready. Mac Allister is likeliest to make way as the PSG winger prefers to play on the right.
Á. Correa
J. Correa
64' One Correa is on for another as Scaloni replaces Inter's Joaquin Correa with Atletico Madrid's Angel Correa.
62' A CHANCE TO DOUBLE THEIR LEAD GOES BEGGING! A fantastic driving run from Molina takes the full-back to the byline, where he pulls it back to the edge of the penalty area for Mac Allister. The winger hits the shot at the first time of asking but drills the chance wide!
F. Aristeguieta
Josef Martínez
62' Josef Martinez sees his number go up on the fourth official's board as Aristeguieta is chosen to replace him.
L. González
C. Cásseres
62' Casseres makes way for Luis Gonzalez as Venezuela continue to search for answers.
60' Messi takes the set-piece and tries to catch the goalkeeper at the near post with a whipped shot but the effort flies wide with the angle not favouring the captain.
59' Chancellor mistimes his tackle sending Joaquin Correa to the ground on the left wing, 25 yards from goal.
57' De Paul invites pressure from Makoun on the left wing and goes over after the defender takes a couple of opportunities to push his opponent. It’s a free-kick for Argentina which they opt to play short despite being in a good position for a cross.
55' CHANCE! Casseres whips a lovely cross with his right foot into the penalty area that Josef Martinez is narrowly unable to reach and steer towards goal from a wide-open position as the opportunity goes begging.
53' De Paul and Messi stand over the set-piece but it’s the latter who strikes it, sending a scooped effort towards goal that’s caught cleanly by Farinez.
51' Messi wriggles past Herrera on the right edge of the penalty area but the midfielder doesn’t let him get away, nipping at his heels to bring him down. It’s a free-kick for Argentina in a good position for a left-footed strike.
50' Tagliafico is body checked to the ground after Murillo comes crashing through in order to close down a pass back to Armani. The substitute gets nowhere near the ball and gives away a free-kick inside Argentina's half.
48' Casseres plays a cross into the penalty area which prompts Armani to come a long way off his line to punch it away - clearing the danger effectively before Tagliafico is able to win a free-kick.
46' Venezuela restart the match from the kick-off!
J. Murillo
M. Navarro
46' A change at the half sees the booked Navarro withdrawn in favour of Murillo.
Scaloni will undoubtedly look to rotate his side as the match goes on, with a couple of young or inexperienced players on his bench that are looking to make a name for themselves. Julian Alvarez will come on at some point - possibly to spell Messi - with Bayer Leverkusen’s Palacios an option in midfield. Venezuela have no reason to hold anything back as they stare down another defeat and as such could use help in attack. Machis is the Vinotinto’s second-highest goal scorer and should be introduced, as well as striker Murillo.
A comfortable Argentina take a deserved 1-0 lead into the interval at La Bombonera, after Nicolas Gonzalez’s 35th-minute strike. The hosts’ superiority was on full display from the outset as Paredes and De Paul were able to establish their dominance in midfield quite early, knitting together long spells of tight and controlled passing. For all their efforts though the Albiceleste were unable to fashion any real goal-scoring opportunities until 10 minutes before the half when De Paul’s low cross was met by the sliding Fiorentina striker to take the lead. Venezuela have maintained their shape well and prevented Farinez from making too many saves, though their attack has been virtually non-existent as Jose Pekerman’s side struggle to keep themselves in the match.
45' The fourth official indicates one minute of additional time will be played.
43' It’s been a controlled half from Argentina, who will be looking for a professional performance as well as the three points. Lionel Scaloni’s main concern will be keeping the clean sheet and ensuring the health of his side as the hosts look well on their way to cut Brazil’s lead at the top back to four.
41' Argentina have only kept one clean sheet against Venezuela in their last five competitive fixtures, though the Albiceleste have only conceded once in their last eight matches.
39' Mac Allister once again goes sliding in and catches Jose Martinez but the Brighton and Hove Albion winger manages to escape with just a warning.
37' Play is eventually restarted after a lengthy VAR check, in which the match official wanted to ensure that De Paul had stayed onside. After review it appears as though the Atleti midfielder was indeed able to hold his line - confirming the 1-0 score.
N. González
35' ARGENTINA OPEN THE SCORING! 1-0! De Paul finds room inside the penalty area and plays a low cross towards the far post which finds its way between Makoun’s legs. Nicolas Gonzalez comes sliding through into the six-yard box and manages to turn his effort past Farinez!
R. De Paul
35' De Paul's spacial awareness and delivery are on full-display as he finds Nicolas Gonzalez for the opening goal.
34' Paredes lunges needlessly into the back of Josef Martinez near the centre-circle and gives away a free-kick which allows Venezuela to push into Argentina’s half.
32' Makoun’s lax attitude in possession almost costs his side as he gives away possession inside his own penalty area but Joaquin Correa’s cross from the byline to the far post fails to find Nicolas Gonzalez.
30' Play is stopped for Jose Martinez, who remains down after a painful clash with Mac Allister in midfield. It’s a free-kick to Venezuela just inside Argentina’s half as the midfielder looks to slowly rise to his feet.
28' Messi looks to spark a training-ground routine from the corner as he floats the ball outside of the penalty area for Otamendi, whose powerful header puts it back into the crowd of bodies. It isn’t executed quite to plan unfortunately for the Albiceleste as Farinez steps off his line to make a claim.
26' Messi plays a pass back to De Paul and immediately charges forward, looking to get on the end of the airborne return inside the penalty area. It’s played a little too far by the Atletico Madrid midfielder, however, leaving a stretching Messi unable to reach the ball.
24' The set-piece is worked short but it fails to produce anything of note as Messi is forced to fire a quick shot into the penalty area that’s saved comfortably by Farinez.
22' Jose Martinez pleads his innocence to the referee after he’s called for a foul but he won’t talk the match official out of an Argentina free-kick after his trailing leg sends Tagliafico to the ground.
20' A Josef Martinez corner-kick finally comes into the penalty area after the referee is forced to sort out a bit of pushing and shoving into the penalty area. It’s a poor delivery that allows Armani to get a clean two-handed punch to the ball.
18' Venezuela win the ball back and move into Argentina’s half for the first time tonight, only to give possession away cheaply after a brief passing spell and prompt an Albiceleste counter-attack which ends in a corner for the hosts.
16' Venezuela have offered precious little in the opening 15 minutes, with Argentina dominating possession. The visitors have managed just 10 passes since the start of the match as Armani looks to be in for a routine evening.
14' The free-kick is taken square and short to Paredes, who hits a volley towards goal that’s promptly blocked before it could reach the goalkeeper.
M. Navarro
Yellow Card
12' Messi dribbles by Navarro and looks to charge down the right wing but an elbow in the face from the trailing winger earns him a yellow card.
10' Messi looks to bring both Molina and Joaquin Correa into play as he drifts towards the right wing in order to cut inside but Casseres’ strength wins him the ball fairly.
8' Otemendi launches a pass forward looking for Joaquin Correa under extreme pressure from Rondon but the delivery can only find Farinez.
6' Messi sends an inswinging free-kick towards the edge of the penalty area which is met by Joaquin Correa, whose header puts it over the bar.
4' Messi receives the ball 20 yards from goal after a clever pass from Paredes but the goalkeeper sees the shot the whole way and makes a comfortable catch.
3' Tagliafico gets forward and looks to slip Nicolas Gonzalez down the left wing but a push in the back from the Fiorentina forward gives Venezuela a free-kick outside their penalty area.
1' Argentina get the match underway from the kick-off!
Venezuela make five changes from the side that lost 4-1 to Uruguay last time out. Rotation at full-back sees Oscar Gonzalez and Hernandez replaced by Makoun and Rosales, while Navarro replaces the absent Tomas Rincon. In attack, Casseres and the returning Josef Martinez play ahead of Otero and Machis.
Argentina make 10 changes from the starting XI that beat Colombia 1-0 on February 1, with only defender Pezzella retaining his place. Emiliano Martinez was not called up and is replaced by Armani, while Gonzalo Montiel, Lisandro Martinez and Marcos Acuna also miss out in defence - allowing Molina, Otamendi and Tagliafico to take their places respectively. Giovani Lo Celso, Guido Rodriguez and Alejandro Gomez are dropped in midfield for De Paul, Paredes and Mac Allister. In attack, Messi returns to play behind striker Joaquin Correa, leaving no room for either Di Maria or Ocampos.
VENEZUELA SUBS: Joel Graterol, Rafael Romo, Luis Del Pino, Ronald Hernandez, Telasco Segovia, Romulo Otero, Francisco La Mantia, Jefferson Savarino, Fernando Aristeguieta, Luis Gonzalez, Darwin Machis, Jhon Murillo.
VENEZUELA XI (4-4-2): Wuilker Farinez; Christian Makoun, Nahuel Ferraresi, Jhon Chancellor, Roberto Rosales; Miguel Navarro, Jose Andres Martinez, Yangel Herrera, Christian Casseres Jr; Josef Martinez, Salomon Rondon.
ARGENTINA SUBS: Juan Musso, Geronimo Rulli, Lucas Martinez Quarta, Juan Foyth, Angel Di Maria, Exequiel Palacios, Lucas Ocampos, Guido Rodriguez, Manuel Lanzini, Julian Alvarez, Angel Correa, Lucas Boye.
ARGENTINA XI (4-2-3-1): Franco Armani; Nahuel Molina, Nicolas Otamendi, German Pezzella, Nicolas Tagliafico; Leandro Paredes, Rodrigo De Paul; Alex Mac Allister, Lionel Messi, Nicolas Gonzalez; Joaquin Correa.
With 15 minutes to go before kick-off, let’s take a look at how the two sides are lining up - starting with our hosts!
Last-place Venezuela have nothing to play for but pride as they go another campaign without making the World Cup proper; the only team in CONMEBOL that has yet to do so. Having not beaten Argentina in qualifying since a Fernando Amorebieta decider in 2011, the Vinotinto will be looking to play spoiler by handing the Albiceleste a loss that would take them out of contention for first place.
Seven points back of leaders Brazil with a game in hand, Argentina are running out of time to close the gap at the top of CONMEBOL. Having already guaranteed a spot in Qatar 2022, Lionel Scaloni has made a number of surprising call-ups - aiming to get a better look at some of the players on the fringes of the Seleccion.
Hello and welcome to our LIVE commentary of the CONMEBOL World Cup qualifying match between Argentina and Venezuela!