Edgardo Bauza will have plenty to ponder ahead of Tuesday night’s clash with Paraguay after watching Argentina twice squander the lead against a Peru side, who will feel that they did even to earn all three points.
There was a hesitancy over Bauza’s team selection in the absence of the injured Lionel Messi given that Sergio Agüero was tasked with fulfilling the number ten role and Paulo Dybala was pushed out onto the right, and any concerns were almost immediately vindicated as Argentina struggled to keep possession and instead resorted to aimless long balls in behind the Peruvian defence.
Regardless of the lack of approach play or constructive possession it was Argentina who led after 15 minutes when Ramiro Funes Mori found the bottom corner at the second time of asking from an Angel Di María corner.
It remained 1-0 until close to the hour mark when Peru snatched a deserved equaliser. Paulo Guerrero had kept Nicolás Otamendi and Funes Mori busy all evening and he expertly took the ball on his chest before holding off the challenge of the Everton defender and rifling the ball past Sergio Romero.
The home side continued knocking on the door as Argentina looked more and more ineffective but after a series of missed opportunities, Gonzalo Higuaín restored La Albiceleste’s lead. The Juventus striker had been almost a spectator for large parts of the match but was released by Pablo Zabaleta and instinctively clipped the ball over the on rushing Pedro Gallese.
All Argentina needed to do was hold on for what would have been a thoroughly undeserved three points but with five minutes remaining Javier Mascherano’s wayward pass sent Guerrero running clear into the penalty area. The Flamengo striker cut across Funes Mori, invited the contact and fell to the ground leaving Sandro Ricci no option but to point to the spot.
Christian Cueva made no mistake with the penalty and ensured Peru earned the point that their performance at least deserved.
Peru 2 – 2 Argentina