Wed, 27 Mar 2013 08:45:00 GMT | By Reuters

Messi wastes late chance as Argentina held

Argentina team had to settle for a 1-1 draw with Bolivia in a World Cup qualifier


Messi wastes late chance as Argentina held (© AFP)

Captain Lionel Messi missed an easy chance near the end as his Argentina team had to settle for a 1-1 draw with Bolivia in a World Cup qualifier played at high altitude on Tuesday.

The third draw in a row between the two teams kept Argentina top of the South American group with 24 points from 11 matches. Bolivia have nine points from the same number of games.

The former world champions have now gone four games without a victory against Bolivia since being crushed 6-1 on their previous visit to the Hernando Siles stadium, nearly 4,000 metres above sea level.

With five minutes remaining Messi had an opportunity to win the match for Argentina, stealing the ball from a defender and bearing down on goal with only Sergio Galarza to beat but the goalkeeper blocked his attempt to thread the ball between his legs.

"I hesitated a bit. It's terrible playing at altitude," said Messi who appeared at times to be suffering the effects of the thin air.

"After making a move at speed it's much harder to recover," he told reporters.

Coach Alejandro Sabella, who made eight changes from the team that beat Venezuela 3-0 in Buenos Aires on Friday, said he was pleased with his second-string side's performance.

"It was an excellent display by Argentina. We had some difficulties in the first half but in the last 20, 25 minutes we deserved more," he added.

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