Argentina vs Paraguay: Otamendi's Goal Seals 1-0 Victory in Messi's Return - Highlights and Score

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Argentina vs Paraguay: Otamendi's Goal Seals 1-0 Victory in Messi's Return - Highlights and Score
In Buenos Aires on Thursday, Argentina triumphs in its third consecutive CONMEBOL World Cup qualifying match.

Argentina, the reigning World Cup winners, faced Paraguay on Thursday night in a CONMEBOL World Cup qualifying match. The Argentine stadium, Mâs Monumental, was packed for the first game starring local superstar Lionel Messi since the team's 1-0 victory over Ecuador on September 7.

They did not feel let down.

After coming off the bench in the second half, Argentina defeated Paraguay 1-0 in a convincing victory. In the third minute, Nicolás Otamendi scored his first goal of the World Cup qualifying matches with a strong shot from the right side of the area.

The early goal created the conditions for Argentina to make a bold statement. They had 75% of the possession at the end of the game, having dominated the first half of the game. Paraguay mustered just one attempt on goal the entire evening and seldom ever possessed the ball long enough to get through a set piece.

Following Otamendi's early goal, Argentina had numerous chances to extend the lead but were unable to make any contact. In the sixteenth minute, forward Lautaro Martínez had a golden opportunity, but Carlos Coronel of Paraguay made one of his three stops to keep it out of goal.

Nicolás González's shot from the centre of the box was Argentina's next best of the first half. In the forty-fifth minute, it went past Coronel's outstretched hands and, likewise, by the far post of the goal by a foot.

Early in the second half, Messi replaced Julián Álvarez in the game. At first, he declined Otamendi's offer of the captain's armband, but in the end, he grinned and accepted it.

Three times in the second half, Messi was on the verge of scoring. In the 76th minute, Messi's last free kick of the match deflected against the left post, Coronel stopped a shot from outside the box fifteen minutes later, and a corner kick in the 76th minute rebounded off the top left corner of the goal.

Emiliano Martínez, the goalkeeper for Argentina, set a national team record of 609 minutes without a goal thanks to the team's relentless defence throughout the game. Since Argentina's victory over France in the World Cup final last December, he has not let an opponent score.

Argentina plays Peru on October 17 to continue its CONMEBOL World Cup qualifying campaign.

Highlights of Argentina vs. Paraguay
The sole goal of the evening in Buenos Aires would come from an early goal by Otamendi.
Messi entered the game in the second half, much to the excitement of the Mâs Monumental crowd.
In the 76th minute, Messi's corner kick almost looped back into the goal, but it ricocheted off the upper corner of the post.
In the ninetieth minute, during a free kick, he struck the post once more.

Argentina 1, Paraguay 0: Messi's free shot strikes the post near the end
Messi's free kick, following a foul by Gustavo Gómez of Paraguay, ricochets off the left post and out of goal (90 + 3').

Argentina's goalie breaks the record for the national team.
Emiliano Martínez of Argentina set a new national record with 609 minutes in goal without a goal during tonight's game.

Carlos Coronel stops Messi's attempt with a shot.
90': Messi attempts to shoot from outside the box, but Coronel blocks it.

Nicolás González missed the goal again with his shot.
Argentina's González attempted to score from the left side of the box, but his effort went wide (88').

Replacement with Paraguay
Miguel Almirón is replaced by Gabriel Ávalos (86').

Lautaro Martínez fired too much.
Following a feed from Nahuel Molina, the Argentine forward's effort from the right side of the box misses the goal by a few feet (84').

In place of Argentina
Leandro Paredes replaces Enzo Fernández in the 79th minute of play.

Messi almost missed the corner kick.
Messi's corner veers back towards the goal during the injury delay, deflecting against the far left corner of the post and out of Paraguay's reach (76').

Paraguayan defensive back Júnior Alonso is being treated for his injuries and taken off on a stretcher (74'). Instead, Héctor Villalba steps in.

Alternatives to Paraguay
Adam Bareiro is replaced by Antonio Sanabria, while Álvaro Campuzano is replaced by Braian Ojeda (71').

Argentina's corner kicks
Argentina attempts two corners, but at 67', neither results in a good shot on goal.

Messi enters the match. Messi replaces Julián Álvarez as the Argentina player (53').

Paraguay's effort at a shot went wide left of goal.
Ramón Sosa of Paraguay raced down the right side of the box and attempted to shoot towards the Argentina goal, but the ball went wide left (51').

Another one for Paraguay, yellow
Adam Bareiro of Paraguay is given a yellow card for a hard foul on Cristian Romero of Argentina in the 50'.