Argentina make perfect start to World Cup qualification with victory in La Paz

The last time Argentina secured victory in La Paz, Lionel Scaloni lined up in starting eleven as the Albiceleste won 2-1 on the way to qualifying for the 2006 World Cup. There is much to do before a place at the 2022 tournament is sealed but Argentina managed to repeat the scoreline with Scaloni now in charge thanks to goals from Lautaro Martínez and Joaquín Correa.

Approaching half time that didn’t look likely as an evidently altitude affected Argentina struggled for air let alone a grip on the game.

The hosts had looked the more dangerous and when Alejandro Chumacero crossed for veteran striker Marcelo Moreno Martins to head past Franco Armani with 24 minutes on the clock it came as little surprise.

Leandro Paredes rattled the woodwork with a fierce shot from the edge of the box in a rare foray forward and as Bolivia retreated behind their lead, Argentina managed an invaluable equaliser before the break. Lautaro Martínez bulldozed his way into the penalty area before fortuitously blocking a clearance and ricocheting the ball into the net in the process.

It proved a real turning point as Argentina dominated when the sides reappeared after half time. The outstanding Exequiel Palacios drove forward from midfield and as Lionel Messi began to have greater influence on the game, the chances appeared.

A trademark run and precise throughball almost presented Martínez with his second only for Carlos Lampe’s fingertips to deny the Inter striker and minutes later the pair combined again for the winner. This time Martínez slipped the ball to substitute Joaquín Correa and the Lazio forward made no mistake in front of goal.

Neither game has been easy for Argentina but two wins from two and an unbeaten run extended to nine matches has Scaloni’s side in good shape heading in to next month’s double-header.