Uruguay 0-1 Argentina: No Messi, no problem! Angel di Maria stunner puts his country on the brink of a World Cup spot and takes unbeaten run to 26 games
- Uruguay faced Argentina in Montevideo for a World Cup qualifier on Friday
- The hosts had far more chances but Argentina stretched to 26 games unbeaten
- Angel di Maria curled a stunning winner into the top corner just seven minutes in
- They are within a victory of securing their spot at the 2022 World Cup
- Lionel Messi only appeared for the final 14 minutes, barely making an impact
Angel di Maria stepped up with a moment of magic to all-but seal Argentina’s place at the World Cup, filling in for Lionel Messi as their goalscoring hero.
Uruguay doggedly attacked the visitors in Montevideo and created a mountain of chances but Luis Suarez and Co couldn’t find a way though, leaving them locked in a fight with Colombia and Chile for the fourth and final qualification spot.
Brazil’s qualification is already locked in, with Tite’s squad leading the 10-team qualification race. They face bitter rivals Argentina next, who are now 26 games unbeaten and a victory away from Qatar.
Angel di Maria scored the winner as Argentina sunk Uruguay in Friday’s World Cup qualifier
The winger curled a stunning curler into the top corner after seven minutes in Montevideo
Uruguay’s World Cup place remains in the balance as they fight for the fourth and final spot
Albicelestes boss Lionel Scaloni admitted: ‘Sometimes you just have to win and we managed that. Not playing well, certainly, but it still counts.’
Di Maria didn’t take long to warm-up on Friday, firing the winner just seven minutes in.
Joaquin Piquerez was caught in possession deep in his own half and Argentina pounced, with Paulo Dybala slipping Di Maria into the box. The PSG star turned and curled a looping left-footed screamer over Fernando Muslera and into the top corner.
Luis Suarez went closest for Uruguay as they charged at Argentina in search of the equaliser. The Atletico Madrid finisher struck the post and forced Emiliano Martinez into an impressive save.
Lionel Messi has missed PSG’s last two matches and only featured for the final 14 minutes
Luis Suarez was the main man for Uruguay again but the forward lack quality support
Both Muslera and Martinez were busy in the second-half, with the Argentine stopper given a scare when he fumbled a shot before scrambling to stop the ball rolling over his goal-line.
Lionel Messi’s introduction 14 minutes from the whistle made little impact as Argentina struggled to flow in attack, while the defence impressively repelled wave after wave of Uruguayan attacks.
Julian Alvarez could have rescued a point in late stages when he was gifted a free header, but the River Plate star fired over and Uruguay were left to rue their lack of support for Luis Suarez in attack.
Argentina sit in second-place in the 10-team qualifying league, six points behind Brazil, eight ahead of Ecuador and 12 clear of the fourth-place dogfight, which Uruguay will be desperate to rise above in their final five games.