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Ecuador v Argentina Live Commentary, 30/03/22

1 - 1
E. Valencia (90+3)
J. Álvarez (24)
Estadio Monumental Banco Pichincha


That concludes our commentary of the CONMEBOL World Cup qualifier between Ecuador and Argentina! We hope you’ve enjoyed it!
A match full of tension and drama in Guayaquil ends with nothing to separate the two sides, as Ecuador and Argentina are forced to share the spoils after a 1-1 draw. Alvarez’s first-half strike somewhat against the run of play looked like it was going to be enough to secure all three points, until a late VAR check for handball on Tagliafico after a Plata header presented Alfaro’s side the opportunity they had been waiting for all match. Valencia saw his initial penalty saved but had the presence of mind to collect the rebound and slot it home on the second effort. It was a deserved goal for La Tri, who were equal to their opponents all match. Argentina looked to combine well in possession but slightly ran out of steam at the end - leaving the door slightly ajar for Ecuador to get back into the match. The international break ends with both Argentina and Ecuador through to the World Cup, which will please both coaches.
90' + 7' Argentina are awarded a late free-kick in their half after Rodriguez is sent to the ground by Jordy Caicedo during an aerial duel. One last chance for the visitors to take all-three points!
90' + 5' The fourth official indicates a minimum of six minutes will be added to the end of the match for stoppages.
E. Valencia
90' + 3' VALENCIA HAS THE LAST LAUGH! 1-1! The captain steps up and fires his penalty to the left, only to see the goalkeeper guess correctly to parry it away. With extreme composure, the forward collects the loose ball and has time to take a touch before slotting a finish past the out of place Rulli! Late drama!
G. Rulli
Penalty Save
90' + 3' WHAT A STOP! Rulli leaps across his line to palm the ball away, keeping it at 1-0!
E. Valencia
Penalty Miss
90' + 3' SAVED! Valencia steps up and sees his penalty saved, with the forward telegraphing his spot somewhat!
N. Tagliafico
Yellow Card
90' + 1' The referee comes back to the field of play and shows Tagliafico a yellow card for the handball infringement.
90' + 1' LATE PENALTY GIVEN! After a VAR intervention, the referee comes back from the monitor and points to the spot - giving Ecuador a late chance to equalise!
90' There is a late VAR check for a potential handball on Tagliafico, which would result in an Ecuador penalty. Plata’s header through on target looked to have taken a touch off of the arm of the full-back, but the referee doesn’t seem sure one way or another.
88' All three of Ecuador’s last three wins over Argentina (2005, 2009 and 2015) have come via 2-0 score lines. La Tri were home on two of those occasions.
86' A stop-start second-half has really hindered Ecuador's ability to mount attacks, with the hosts unable to get momentum and build up a head of steam. They've looked dangerous on the counter and down the flanks but have found it difficult to sustain continuous pressure.
84' Ecuador have scored 10 of their 26 goals in World Cup qualifying (35.8%) in the last 15 minutes of matches. Argentina have scored four of their 26 strikes in the same period.
Angelo Preciado
B. Castillo
82' Last roll of the dice for La Tri, who send Preciado on for Castillo.
J. Caicedo
M. Estrada
82' Jordy Caicedo is on for Estrada in a change at striker for Ecuador.
P. Hincapié
Yellow Card
80' Hincapie is shown a yellow card for a high boot in front of Messi, which the forward was able to narrowly avoid.
J. Foyth
G. Montiel
78' Scaloni won't take any further risk with Montiel, who was feeling his back earlier after a clash with Mena. Foyth comes on in his place.
G. Rodríguez
L. Paredes
78' A change in Argentina's midfield sees Rodriguez replace Paredes.
L. Ocampos
N. González
78' Ocampos takes over for Gonzalez with 12 minutes left.
76' The initial effort is driven into the wall but Mena’s follow-up attempt takes a deflection on its way through for an Ecuador corner.
75' Valencia is bowled over by Paredes 25 yards from goal, giving Ecuador a real chance to test Rulli from a set-piece.
J. Sarmiento
C. Gruezo
73' Gruezo's match is over as he's recalled to the bench. Sarmiento is his replacement.
Á. Correa
J. Álvarez
72' Alvarez is brought off with 18 minutes remaining as Angel Correa is chosen to replace the young goal scorer.
70' The referee isn't finished with just two bookings however as he goes across to the technical area to show a yellow card to Scaloni, who was obviously unimpressed with the match official's handling of the situation.
N. Otamendi
Yellow Card
68' Never far from a fracas, Otamendi is the Argentina player who was deemed to have instigated the fight - earning him a yellow card.
M. Estrada
Yellow Card
68' Estrada is the Ecuador player shown a yellow card for sparking the fray.
67' The linesmen are getting involved on the pitch as a fight has broken out between Ecuador and Argentina during the referee’s attempt to sort out a foul on De Paul. Both goalkeepers have come across to help diffuse the situation but bookings are likely.
65' Messi does indeed send a cross into the penalty area looking to attack the six-yard box but a leaping Arboleda heads the danger away.
64' Gonzalez goes down on the edge of the penalty area after Gruezo’s accidental stamp on the forward’s foot, which has him hobbling quite noticeably. It’s a free-kick for Argentina in a perfect area for Messi to cross.
62' WHAT A CHANCE! Mena almost makes an immediate impact, receiving Moises Caicedo's pass after a Messi turnover in midfield before charging forward and firing a left-footed shot that narrowly misses the mark!
E. Valencia
A. Franco
60' Gruezo comes across to give Valencia the armband as the forward is sent on in Franco's place.
Á. Mena
R. Ibarra
60' Mena is sent on for Ibarra with 30 minutes remaining.
E. Palacios
A. Mac Allister
59' Mac Allister is able to walk off under his own power but Scaloni won't risk him further as Palacios is introduced in his place.
58' Play remains stopped as Mac Allister receives treatment and the rest of the Argentina XI protest for a punishment more severe than yellow.
A. Franco
Yellow Card
56' Franco’s side-footed pass ahead of Mac Allister catches the Brighton winger on the thigh with a raised foot - earning the Ecuador midfielder a yellow card.
55' Argentina look to play out from the back but their inability to keep the ball on the ground ultimately hurts them as Gonzalez is unable to control a pass out to the flank - giving Ecuador a throw inside the Albiceleste half.
53' Estrada is unable to fashion a shot under pressure from three Argentina defenders inside the penalty area. The striker’s inability to make clean contact with the ball allows Paredes to steal in and win possession before earning his side a throw.
51' Argentina are looking to slow down the pace in the second half, with their goal sufficient for the three points. The Albiceleste have kept eight clean sheets with multiple goalkeepers in their last 10 matches - a streak they’ll be looking to extend this evening.
M. Caicedo
Yellow Card
49' Moises Caicedo goes into the referee's notebook with a yellow card just three minutes after the restart, for an ill-advised lunging challenge on Mac Allister.
48' Castillo gives the ball away just outside his own penalty area but Mac Allister is unable to capitalise as he sees his shot blocked on two different occasions before an eventual Alvarez cross is caught by Galindez.
46' Ecuador get the match restarted from the kick-off!
44' Argentina have won their last four matches against Ecuador in all competitions; outscoring their opponents 13-2 in that time.
Argentina will no doubt look to rotate their XI in the second half, with Scaloni looking to get a better idea of some of his squad’s fringe players. West Ham’s Lanzini as well as Elche’s Boye could get some action in the second half as Messi’s legs tire. Having nothing on the line but pride, Alfaro can instruct his side to go out and attack in search of the equaliser. Veteran Valencia, as well as Jordy Caicedo, are likely entrants, as is Sarmiento.
A thoroughly entertaining first half in Guayaquil comes to a close with Argentina leading Ecuador by a score of 1 to nil. Despite having already qualified, La Tri were anything but complacent as they raced forward from the first whistle, pressing and harrying their opponents, who were given little time on the ball. The Albiceleste would prove clinical, however, scoring with their first shot as Alvarez’s close-range finish after 24 minutes opened his international account. Despite going behind the hosts are certainly not out of proceedings, with Iborra and Plata threatening Montiel and Tagliafico at every opportunity.
45' The fourth official indicates one minute will be added to the end of the half for stoppages.
43' Messi’s corner from the right is hit looking for Gonzalez but Moises Caicedo wins the crucial header and clears the danger.
41' SO CLOSE! Messi and De Paul work a short-corner routine, which provides the latter the space to send in a cross from the edge of the penalty area. The curling delivery finds a rising Otamendi at the far post but he can only put his header downwards and wide of the goal!
39' Messi dinks the ensuing free-kick into the penalty area but Arboleda has his area covered, whacking away the set-piece.
B. Castillo
Yellow Card
37' Castillo uses two hands to tug Gonzalez back, earning the Ecuador right-back a yellow card.
36' Messi drives forward to the edge of the penalty area where he’s met by Gruezo, who clatters clumsily into the Argentina captain. It’s clumsy but not malicious as the referee fails to give a free-kick, allowing Ecuador to bring the ball away from their goal.
34' Plata goes down again on the edge of the Argentina penalty area following an Ecuador throw-in but again the referee is having none of it - allowing play to continue and shaking his head at the winger. It’s certainly sparked the crowd, who have returned to full voice to display their displeasure.
32' Plata goes down under an apparent challenge from Otamendi and immediately looks for a free-kick but the referee isn’t convinced as he gives Rulli the goal-kick and instructs the winger to get up and continue playing.
30' An audacious trivela attempt from Franco in the aftermath of an Ibarra corner almost beats Rulli, who does just enough to get a flapping hand to the effort - allowing Otamendi to clear it further.
28' Play is momentarily stopped for De Paul, who went over after a push from Hincapie. The Atletico Madrid midfielder has found himself in quite the battle in the first half but he's managed to come through and positively affect his side.
26' Argentina's first real attack of the match couldn't have ended any better for Scaloni, with the young Alvarez fully justifying his first start for the senior national side. Despite great play from the hosts in the opening half-hour they find themselves behind and will need to respond appropriately.
J. Álvarez
24' A FIRST GOAL IN A FIRST START FOR ALVAREZ! Messi works a one-two pass with Mac Allister, getting the PSG forward to the edge of the area where he again plays it out to his left for Tagliafico. The full-back drives a low cross into the area where Gonzalez fails to get a shot away - presenting the opportunity for Alvarez, who coolly slots it home!
22' Moises Caicedo runs down a cul-de-sac in midfield right in front of the coach's technical area, giving away possession before smartly putting himself in a position to block the Argentina passing triangle and put it out for a throw - limiting the damage.
20' Estupinan is again charged with taking the free-kick but he fails to beat the first man as Argentina repel the set-piece.
A. Mac Allister
Yellow Card
18' Iborra goes streaking down the pitch on a counter-attack following the blocked Montiel effort, which forces Mac Allister to bring the winger down cynically. It's a yellow for the Brighton and Hove player.
17' Gonzalez’s cross from the left is hit by Montiel, whose awkward half-volley is blocked immediately by Estupinan to end the Argentina attack.
15' Despite having guaranteed their progress to the World Cup proper, Ecuador have come out of the blocks looking to give their opponents an extremely difficult time. Montiel and Tagliafico have struggled to cover their flanks in the midst of Franco and Iborra’s pace, while Paredes and De Paul are not being allowed any time in possession.
13' ANOTHER SQUANDERED CHANCE! Ibarra is giving Montiel no shortage of problems down the flank, with the winger twisting and turning his way past the full-back before slipping a low cross to the far post for Franco. The forward makes contact with the ball via a sliding shot but Rulli does just enough to cover the corner and put it out for a set-piece.
11' Ibarra’s corner from the left is hit looking for Franco but Rulli steps confidently off his line to make the easy catch.
9' The hosts are certainly giving their fans something to cheer about as Ibarra’s backheel pass sends Estupinan down the left flank. The Villarreal full-back looks up and attempts to find Franco but he fails to hit the ball accurately, sending it out for a goal-kick.
7' Otamendi is again in the middle of the action, heading away Ecuador’s ensuing corner-kick and protecting Rulli from action.
5' CLOSE! Estupinan’s free-kick delivery from the left wing is inch-perfect to the far post, where it’s met by the head of Arboleda. The centre-back looks to put his header across the face of goal for a team-mate, where it’s turned behind by Otamendi.
3' Moises Caicedo is called twice in the first two minutes for fouls on De Paul, with the Brighton and Hove Albion midfielder starting the game exceptionally eager to win the ball. He’s going to have to do it cleanly from now on though - or risk the wrath of the referee.
1' Argentina get the match underway from the kick-off!
Argentina make four changes to the XI that beat Venezuela 3-0 last time out. The absence of Emiliano Martinez means further rotation at goalkeeper, with Rulli replacing Armani. Two changes to the defence see Martinez Quarta and Montiel chosen ahead of Molina and Pezzella while one alteration in attack sees Alvarez start ahead of Joaquin Correa.
Ecuador make six changes from the XI that lost 3-1 to Paraguay last time out. Arboleda replaces Torres in the defence while Franco and Moises Caicedo replace Mendez and Castillo in midfield. The final changes are in the attack, where an overhaul sees Plata, Ibarra and Estrada start over Mena, Valencia and Joao Rojas respectively.
ARGENTINA SUBS: Franco Armani, Juan Musso, Juan Foyth, Angel Di Maria, Nahuel Molina, Exequiel Palacios, Joaquin Correa, Lucas Ocampos, Guido Rodriguez, Manuel Lanzini, Angel Correa, Lucas Boye.
ARGENTINA XI (4-2-3-1): Geronimo Rulli; Nicolas Tagliafico, Nicolas Otamendi, Lucas Martinez Quarta, Gonzalo Montiel; Rodrigo De Paul, Leandro Paredes; Julian Alvarez, Alexis Mac Allister, Nicolas Gonzelez; Lionel Messi.
ECUADOR SUBS: Pinos, Wellington Ramirez, Luis Leon, Michael Carcelen, Jordy Caicedo, Enner Valencia, Xavier Arreaga, Angel Mena, Jeremy Sarmiento, Angelo Preciado, Diego Palacios, Jhegson Mendez.
ECUADOR XI (4-2-3-1): Hernan Galindez; Pervis Estupinan, Piero Hincapie, Robert Arboleda, Byron Castillo; Carlos Gruezo, Moises Caicedo; Alan Franco, Gonzalo Plata, Romario Ibarra; Michael Estrada.
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!
Argentina extended their undefeated streak to a whopping 30 matches after thrashing Venezuela 3-0 last Friday, despite a number of call-ups to those on the fringes of the national side. Guaranteed at least second place, the Albiceleste still have the opportunity to supersede Brazil at the top of the section, with the postponed fixture between the Selecao and Argentina still to be rescheduled.
There’s little doubt we’re in for a party atmosphere at the Estadio Monumental Banco Pichincha in Guayaquil, with hosts Ecuador punching their ticket to the 2022 World Cup last time out - despite a 3-1 loss to Paraguay. Unable to climb any higher than their current position in third, Gustavo Alfaro’s side cannot fall any lower than fourth place and will be one of the four or possibly five South American representatives - after missing out on Russia 2018.
Hello and welcome to our LIVE commentary of the CONMEBOL World Cup qualifier between Ecuador and Argentina!