Despite Peru’s best efforts, Argentina scored the lone goal required to earn its latest World Cup qualifying victory, 1-0, at the Estadio Monumental in Buenos Aires. Lionel Messi’s team has now gone unbeaten in 25 consecutive games.
In the first half, the visiting Peruvians defended comfortably, allowing the Argentines large areas and then dealt with the following crosses. But they couldn’t handle Argentina’s world-class performance three minutes before the halftime break. Nahuel Molina, right back, exchanged passes with partner Rodrigo De Paul before sending a perfect throw into the area that found Lautaro Martinez in stride for a thunderous header.
Aside from that goal, Argentina struggled to produce much against a well-organized and hard-nosed Peruvian team that had a great chance to equalise in the second half when substitute Jefferson Farfan won a penalty kick. However, Peruvian veteran Yoshimar Yotun deflected the shot off the crossbar and out. Peru’s only other meaningful threat came from a late corner kick before the final whistle.
While Argentina (2nd, 25 points) appears to be on track to qualify for the World Cup, Peru requires a magical run and some assistance to make it to Qatar 2022. It is sixth in the table with 11 points, five points behind fifth place. The top four teams qualify straight to the World Cup, while the fifth-place team qualifies for a play-in series.