X

Lionel Messi Converts Penalty, Argentina Draw with Paraguay at 2019 Copa America

Megan ArmstrongCorrespondent IIJune 20, 2019

Argentina's Lionel Messi celebrates after scoring from a penalty spot against Paraguay during a Copa America Group B soccer match at Mineirao stadium in Belo Horizonte, Brazil, Wednesday, June 19, 2019. (AP Photo/Natacha Pisarenko)
Natacha Pisarenko/Associated Press

It's only fitting that Argentina's first goal of its 2019 Copa America campaign came from Lionel Messi after video assistant referee awarded him a penalty kick. 

Messi's converting from the spot leveled Argentina with Paraguay 1-1 in the 57th minute and salvaged a necessary result for the Argentines. 

ESPN FC @ESPNFC

Messi scores Argentina's first goal of the tournament 💪 https://t.co/hKhu0iFI4D

After review, officials ruled a handball in the box against Paraguay and awarded Argentina the penalty. If not for that, Paraguay easily should have walked away with all three points. 

Richard Sanchez and Miguel Almiron collaborated to give Paraguay a 1-0 lead in the 37th minute on the counterattack following a free kick for Argentina, then had a golden opportunity to retake the lead with a penalty kick of its own in the 63rd minute.

ESPN FC @ESPNFC

Paraguay hits Argentina on a counter attack! Richard Sánchez with the finish ⚽️ https://t.co/lQyPSgP05S

While Derlis Gonzalez missed the penalty kick, the point still remains that both chances were the result of Argentine miscues. Paraguay's penalty chance, for example, came thanks to a reckless tackle by Nicolas Otamendi.

Not to mention, the team's general discord led, just as in its opening 2-0 loss to Colombia, to Messi being neutralized in the run of play.  

Argentina stealing a point in this game keeps its hopes to advance out of the group play alive, however meek. The one point still places them tied for last with Qatar behind Paraguay and Colombia, who have two and six points, respectively.

Heading into the final match of group play against Qatar, who managed to come from behind and get a 2-2 draw against Paraguay, Argentina rookie head coach Lionel Scaloni has done little to inspire confidence:

Peter Coates @golazoargentino

I thought the Matías Suárez for Agüero sub when behind to Colombia was bad & then Scaloni goes and takes off Lautaro for Di María when still needing a goal against Paraguay. Any chance Argentina can sub the manager?

Peter Coates @golazoargentino

Full time and it ends Argentina 1 Paraguay 1 - another dismal display created some excitement for about 10 minutes and then Scaloni decided to revert back to utter crap

Sam Kelly @HEGS_com

A simple change: two CFs ahead of Messi. More space for the midfield, as Paraguay were forced to defend ten yards deeper. More space for Messi. It was *obvious*. Scaloni apparently didn't see it. Never mind how did he get the job; how did he have a career as a top-flight player?

Ahead of Wednesday's match with Paraguay, Scaloni told reporters (h/t beIN Sports): "The Copa for us is like it has not started yet. ... We would have liked to have started in another way, but the players are clear that there are two games to play."

One would hope Scaloni believes Copa has begun now, as Argentina is down to its last breath.

B/R Football @brfootball

Argentina are still alive. Barely. #CopaAmerica https://t.co/o4cc4qcwjR

               

What's Next?

Argentina's final Group B match will be against Qatar, and Paraguay will wrap up against group-leading Colombia. Both matches are slated for Sunday at 3 p.m. ET on ESPN+.