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Messi penalty, Armani save secure lucky draw for Argentina

BELO HORIZONTE, Brazil – Argentina still has a chance to reach the quarter-finals after drawing 1-1 with Paraguay on Wednesday.

Richard Sanchez had given Paraguay the lead in the 37th minute, firing into the bottom corner after a lung-bursting run from Miguel Almiron down the left wing.

Argentina captain Lionel Messi pulled his side level in the 57th minute after a handball by Paraguay’s Ivan Peris which no-one on the pitch appealed for but was spotted by a VAR review.

Paraguay were awarded a spot-kick of their own a few minutes later but Derlis Gonzalez’s shot was saved by Argentina keeper Franco Armani.

Argentina are still bottom of Group B with one point from two games but they could progress to the last eight with a win over third-placed Qatar in their final group game on Sunday.

Anything less than victory against the Asian Cup winners will send Argentina out and further prolong Messi’s long wait to win a trophy with his country.

Paraguay, who also threw away the lead to draw 2-2 with Qatar in their first game, are second on two points and need to beat Colombia to be guaranteed a spot in the quarter-finals.

Argentina’s caretaker coach Lionel Scaloni admitted his side had not played well and struggled to cope with the shock of conceding the first goal.

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