Argentina suffers defeat in WC qualifiers, Brazil tops South American group
The Argentine side will be desperate to have Messi back in shape for their next qualifier away to Brazil in Belo Horizonte on November 10. Photograph: (AFP)
Argentina sorely missed its injured captain and star player Lionel Messi as it suffered a humiliating defeat at hands of Paraguay in their World Cup qualifier on home turf.
Paraguay stunned the two-time world champions with a fast break from deep in their own half, Angel Romero playing the ball into the path of Derlis Gonzalez who beat Sergio Romero with a shot inside the near post in the 18th minute.
Argentina missed an opportunity just two minutes into the second half to get back on level, but Paraguay captain Justo Villar saved Sergio Aguero's weak penalty.
The defeat left the side five points behind new leaders Brazil in the South American group, who won 2-0 in Venezuela. The Argentine side will be desperate to have Messi back in shape for their next qualifier away to Brazil in Belo Horizonte on November 10.
Brazil leads the standings with 21 points from 10 matches, Uruguay is second with 20 points while Ecuador and Colombia are third and fourth respectively with 17 points apiece.
Brazil's striker Gabriel Jesus opened the scoring at Estadio Metropolitano in Merida on Tuesday by chipping over goalkeeper Hernandez Santos after some poor defending by Venezuela. Willian later made it 2-0 just after halftime with a slick first-time finish following a Renato Augusto cross.
The top four will go through to the 2018 World Cup finals in Russia, while the fifth-placed side go into an intercontinental playoff for another berth.
(WION with inputs from agencies)