Argentina on brink of qualifying for FIFA World Cup 2022
Angel Di Maria's goal put Argentina on the verge of qualifying for next year's FIFA World Cup in Qatar. Interestingly, Lionel Messi started the game on the bench for the narrow 1-0 win away to Uruguay. Messi was only called upon by coach Lionel Scaloni to play the final quarter as he made his comeback from knee and hamstring issues.
Why does this story matter?
After Brazil sealed qualification for next year's global event, this win was massive for Argentina, who are placed second in the CONMEBOL qualifying table. Argentina face Brazil next and a win, besides some other results going their way will see them through. However, with six games left, Argentina know it's a matter of time. It was another commendable show for an in-form Argentine outfit.
Argentina maintain unbeaten run, Uruguay slip
Argentina are now unbeaten in 26 games across competitions. Playing their 12th qualifying match, Argentina have sealed eight wins and four draws. They have collected 28 points so far, having won their last three games. Argentina scored their 20th goal of the qualifying event. Meanwhile, Uruguay have slipped to sixth. They have lost three successive matches and are winless in four.
Feats achieved by Di Maria and Martinez
Playing his 117th match for Argentina, Di Maria netted his 22nd goal. The Paris Saint-Germain star scored just his second goal for Argentina in 2021. Meanwhile, Aston Villa goal-keeper Emiliano Martinez kept his seventh clean sheet in 12 appearances for Argentina.
Winning today was a huge step, says Martinez
Martinez praised his team for the courage shown. "This team has great courage and when you don't play well, you still have to win," said Martinez. "Winning today was a huge step. We deserve it because we work very hard," he added.