An Alexis Mac Allister penalty earned Argentina under-23s a draw against Paraguay on Tuesday evening at Platense’s Estadio Ciudad de Vicente López.
Fernando Batista’s side travel to Colombia in a few days to begin the pre-Olympic tournament and while Argentina didn’t leave with victory it was a useful, hard fought 90 minutes.
The worst possible start saw Jesús Medina give Paraguay an early lead and Batista will have been less than impressed by his side’s defending. Claudio Bravo allowed a cross to come in from right, Facundo Cambeses slipped in his attempts to come and gather and Facundo Medina’s scuffed clearance fell straight to Medina.
Argentina’s response was swift, Nicolás Capaldo was caught by Jorge Morel in the penalty area and Alexis Mac Allister fired in from the penalty spot.
However despite seeing plenty of the ball and Argentina using their width well, Batista’s failed to create chances for danger man Adolfo Gaich.
Instead just before the break Cambeses was forced to make amends for his earlier mistake with a good stop to keep out a Hugo Fernández free-kick.
The changes throughout the second half to give more players an opportunity to get minutes before the tournament understandably led to a lack of cohesion yet Argentina almost snatched the win. Fernando Valenzuela did superbly on the edge of the area to release Marcelo Herrera’s overlap and his cross bobbled through to Valentín Castellanos, who could only direct a close range header over the crossbar.
Argentina will play another friendly against Racing behind closed doors at Ezeiza on Saturday before flying to Colombia. An opening game against the hosts on January 18th will be followed by Group A matches with Chile, Ecuador and Venezuela. The top two going in to the final stage, where the top two there will qualify for Tokyo 2020.