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SPORTS | 12-09-2023 20:58

Albiceleste, missing Messi, cruise to win in Bolivia's great heights

Argentina rested Lionel Messi but still enjoyed a comfortable 3-0 win over 10-man Bolivia in La Paz on Tuesday night.

Argentina rested Lionel Messi but still enjoyed a comfortable 3-0 win over 10-man Bolivia in La Paz on Tuesday to maintain their winning start to South American World Cup qualifying.

Messi, who has had a hectic schedule with his club Inter Miami, watched his teammates from the bench but was not listed as a substitute, having complained of slight tiredness after scoring the winner in Thursday's 1-0 victory over Ecuador.

Despite the absence of their talisman, Lionel Scaloni's side had too much firepower for Bolivia with goals from Enzo Fernández, Nicolás Tagliafico and Nicolás González securing the victory.

Chelsea midfielder Fernández went close with a wonderful effort from 30 yards out that was heading into the top corner before Bolivia keeper Guillermo Viscarra tipped it over.

Viscarra then did well again to keep out a near post drive from Julián Álvarez, who had taken advantage of some sloppy defending.

The lively Álvarez had a hand in Argentina's opener in the 31st minute, feeding Ángel Di María, whose low cross was turned in by Fernández, who had made a perfectly timed run into the box.

Eight minutes later, Bolivia’s task got even tougher when Roberto Fernández was sent off for an over-the-top challenge on Cristian Romero.

Argentina went in at the break with a 2-0 lead after Tagliafico met a floated Di María free-kick with a header that looped over Viscarra.

The three-time World Cup winners were in total control after the break with Álvarez hitting the post in the 70th minute and Viscarra kept busy by efforts from Rodrigo De Paul and Di Maria.

Fernández wrapped up the victory seven minutes from the end with a left-footed drive after more hesitant defending from the home side.

 

 

– TIMES/AFP

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