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Argentina 1-0 Ecuador: 5 talking points as La Albiceleste labour to unimpressive win | World Cup Qualifiers

Argentina secured three points in their first qualifying game courtesy of Lionel Messi
Argentina secured three points in their first qualifying game courtesy of Lionel Messi's penalty
Sachin Bhat
ANALYST
Modified 09 Oct 2020, 11:22 IST
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Argentina laboured to an unimpressive 1-0 win over Ecuador in their opening game of the 2022 World Cup qualifiers at La Bombonera in Buenos Aires.

Lionel Messi was the difference-maker once again as the skipper's penalty was enough to secure all three points for the hosts.

Both teams played for the first time in almost a year, and that fact was evident as neither were able to carve out clear-cut chances while the match was marred by plenty of nasty challenges too.

It was not a great night for either side but the Albiceleste will be content to have gotten off to a winning start. Here are the major talking points from the match:

#1 Argentina skipper Lionel Messi saves the day (again)

Messi
Messi 's last four goals for Argentina have come from 12 yards

In his first game for Argentina in almost a year, Lionel Messi was on target from the penalty spot to give the hosts the lead, which eventually proved to be the match-winner.

This wasn't the most vintage performance from the Barcelona ace but he nevertheless delivered when it mattered. He smashed his effort into the far post with aplomb and even though the goalkeeper dived the right way, the pace and power in the shot were simply too much for him to handle.

Messi's latest strike takes him to 71 international goals for the Albiceleste, and he now trails just six goals behind Brazil legend Pele for most goals by a South American player.

#2 Ecuador need to find their attacking rhythm

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Ecuador didn
Ecuador didn't do much in the way of attacks

Ecuador's performance against Argentina made them look like they couldn't care less about the match.

La Tri showed no attacking intent whatsoever, making just two shots all night, neither of which were on target. Argentine goalkeeper Franco Armani barely had anything to do.

Ecuador had 41% of the possession but they didn't make a single meaningful pass or a carve out an opportunity. Even striker Enner Valencia was forced to drop deep to help out in the midfield, further crippling the attack.

Such a lack of firepower up front should concern manager Gustavo Alfaro, whose team have now scored just five times in the last 11 competitive games!

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Published 09 Oct 2020, 11:22 IST
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