Qualifying Stage
  • Derlis González (18')

Paraguay shock Argentina as struggles without Messi continue

Aguero pen miss vs Paraguay 161011 AP Images

Argentina's stuttering World Cup qualifying campaign continued as they were beaten 1-0 at home by Paraguay.

Edgardo Bauza's men had drawn their last two games on the road to Russia and were sunk by Derlis Gonzalez's first-half goal as Paraguay stunned the natives in Cordoba.

The hosts did more than enough to win, but it was just not their night as Angel Di Maria hit the post, Sergio Aguero missed a penalty, they had a goal disallowed and spurned a number of gilt-edged chances.

The defeat leaves them out of the automatic qualification spots with eight games to go and they next travel to Brazil in November.

Missing the injured Lionel Messi, Argentina started brightly but were hit with an 18th-minute sucker punch as Paraguay produced a lightning-quick counter-attack, which proved to be the decisive moment of the game.

Oscar Romero found space in the middle of the park and fed Gonzalez who raced clear and sent his low shot squirming under Sergio Romero at the near post.

The hosts' response was strong and they came close to equalising seven minutes later but Di Maria's effort hit the base of the post with Marcos Rojo blazing over shortly after.

Their best chance to get back on level terms came within a minute of the restart as they were awarded a penalty when Paulo Da Silva handled Gonzalo Higuain's flick on.

However, Aguero, playing through injury, was far too nonchalant with his spot kick and allowed Justo Villar to make an easy save down to his left.

Back came Argentina and the Manchester City striker spurned another fine chance moments later when Villar again came to the rescue as he kept out a low effort at the far post while Higuain somehow missed from close range.

They thought they were level in the 54th minute as they scrambled the ball home from a set-piece, but the linesman incorrectly raised his flag.

Paulo Dybala tested Villar's handling from range while Aguero missed one more chance - a free header -- as Argentina were booed off by their home fans after failing to make the breakthrough.