Bolivia took advantage of Lionel Messi’s four-match ban and compounded Argentina’s misery with a 2-0 win in Tuesday’s World Cup qualifying clash in La Paz.
Messi was initially named in head coach Edgardo Bauza’s line-up on Monday, but a suspension imposed by FIFA on the day of the game – after the captain insulted a match official in last week’s victory over Chile – ruled him out of contention.
It proved a huge blow for an already much-depleted Argentina, whose absences included the banned Nicolas Otamendi, Lucas Biglia, Javier Mascherano and Gonzalo Higuain
The visitors never got going at an altitude of 3,600 metres and Bolivia deservedly took the lead in the 31st minute when Facundo Roncaglia’s poor marking was capitalised upon by Juan Carlos Arce, who steered a header past Sergio Romero.
Marcelo Martins added a thunderous second for Mauricio Soria’s side in the second half with Angel Correa – deputising ahead of Sergio Aguero for the suspended Messi – producing a disappointing display.
Argentina were unable to recover and remain without a win in Bolivia since 2005, while their woeful record without Messi during the campaign now stands at one win in eight matches without their talismanic captain.
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