Lionel Scaloni called for greater consistency with the VAR after Argentina were denied a winner against Paraguay.

Nicolas Gonzalez cancelled out Angel Romero's penalty at La Bombonera on Thursday and Argentina thought they had a third straight win to begin World Cup qualifying when Lionel Messi scored in the second half.

However, the goal was ruled out after a VAR check for a foul that started Argentina's passing build-up, and Scaloni's men were held as they moved onto seven points from three World Cup 2022 qualifiers.

But the Argentina coach wants to see greater consistency from the VAR after his side were denied a winner.

"I think that in some way it is necessary to seek to unify the issue of the VAR," Scaloni told a news conference, via Argentina's Twitter.

"I am not talking in good or bad faith, but to unify criteria."

After a slow start, Argentina dominated following Romero's opener from the penalty spot for Paraguay.

Argentina have won just two of their past eight qualifiers against Paraguay, who held on for a point in Buenos Aires.

Scaloni was satisfied with his team's performance and said they were dominant for long periods.

"In the first 15 minutes the team did not go well. After the penalty I think it was all ours, honestly," he said.

"The team reacted, created situations, did what it had to do. We achieved a draw."

Scaloni added: "We are leaving with a bittersweet taste because Argentina did everything to win.

"In the second half, we put the rival behind. We must also value the attitude of the team, which always believed in achieving victory."

Argentina continue their qualifying campaign with a trip to Lima to face Peru on Tuesday.

Argentina continued their unbeaten start to World Cup qualifying with a 1-1 draw against Paraguay at La Bombonera on Thursday.

Angel Romero's penalty gave Paraguay a first-half lead, but his opener was cancelled out by Nicolas Gonzalez's header.

After falling behind, Argentina were dominant, and Lionel Messi had a second-half goal ruled out following a VAR check.

Lionel Scaloni's men were forced to settle for a point and are unbeaten through three qualifiers to top the CONMEBOL standings.

After a bright start, Paraguay took a deserved 21st-minute lead through Romero's penalty.

Miguel Almiron's strong run at the Argentina defence saw the attacker brought down by Lucas Martinez, and Romero stepped up to place the spot-kick into the bottom corner.

Argentina started to enjoy more possession but struggled to create much of note before Gonzalez equalised prior to half-time thanks to his first international goal.

Gonzalez met a good corner from Giovani Lo Celso, who replaced the injured Exequiel Palacios during the first half, to head in at the near post and make it 1-1.

The equaliser gave Argentina a boost and Rodrigo De Paul's long-range drive forced a save from Paraguay goalkeeper Antony Silva on the stroke of half-time.

Lautaro Martinez and Paraguay defender Gustavo Gomez squandered good chances shortly after half-time before Argentina thought they had the lead.

After a cutback from Lo Celso, Messi beat Silva despite a strong hand from the Paraguay goalkeeper, but the goal was ruled out for a foul in the build-up after a VAR check.

Messi went close in the 72nd minute, Silva tipping his free-kick onto the crossbar after Lo Celso was fouled as Argentina continued to push, but they were unable to find a winner.

 

What does it mean? Argentina extend unbeaten run

Now unbeaten in three World Cup 2022 qualifiers, Argentina also stretched their overall run to 10. They made a slow start in Buenos Aires but were dominant after falling behind and deserved all three points. Argentina were denied a third straight win to begin a qualifying campaign, something they have managed just three times before.

Lo Celso provides spark

Palacios' injury was unfortunate for Argentina, but Lo Celso's introduction just before the half-hour mark boosted Scaloni's side. The Tottenham attacker assisted Gonzalez's equaliser and set up Messi's disallowed goal, while he was a constant threat.

Paraguay continue to trouble Argentina

Since being belted 6-1 by Argentina at the Copa America in 2015, Paraguay have gone four games unbeaten in meetings between the countries. In World Cup qualifying, Paraguay have won three and lost just two of their past eight clashes with Argentina.

What's next?

Argentina make the trip to Lima to face Peru on Tuesday, while Paraguay host Bolivia on the same day.

Lionel Messi has been declared fit for Argentina's 2022 World Cup qualifiers against Paraguay and Peru by Lionel Scaloni.

It had been reported that Messi was a doubt for Thursday's meeting with Paraguay at La Bombonera after reporting for duty with an ankle issue.

The six-time Ballon d'Or winner started Barcelona's 5-2 victory over Real Betis on Saturday among the substitutes but came on at half-time and scored twice.

Barca assistant coach Alfred Schreuder said the decision was made because Messi was "not fresh", but Scaloni put any lingering concerns over his fitness to bed.

"Leo trained with us normally. He has been experiencing discomfort in his ankle but it does not prevent him from playing, so for us he is fit and available," Scaloni told a news conference on Wednesday.

"We'll see if anything changes tomorrow, but in principle he's ready to play.

"The truth is that we have had quite a few problems. We still do not have every player. [Lucas] Martinez Quarta just arrived and we will see if he can train with the group this afternoon, and the rest of those who trained differently for various reasons, we hope today to see how they are so we can define the team for tomorrow.

"Without a doubt, it was a very unusual selection – the most difficult we have had. It's typical of what we are experiencing with the number of games being played and the rush there is. We hope to have them all."

Angel Di Maria returned to the Argentina set-up for the first time since last year's Copa America and Scaloni explained the reason for the absence of the Paris Saint-Germain attacker for the opening round of qualifiers in October.

"We had Nicolas Gonzalez and [Giovani] Lo Celso, who got injured after being called up. I would have been in favour of calling up Di Maria, but with everything that was happening it did not seem fair and respectful when he would only have arrived for the second game," said Scaloni.

"This time, Nico Gonzalez had very few minutes, Lo Celso had not got a rhythm and we thought we were not going to make the mistake of not bringing him in again.

"My relationship with him is perfect. We are happy to have him and he is training very well."

CONMEBOL has asked FIFA to postpone the start of its 2022 World Cup qualifying, scheduled for this month, due to coronavirus fears.

In a letter sent to FIFA on Wednesday, CONMEBOL asked for its opening qualifiers, scheduled for March 26, 27 and 31, to be postponed.

COVID-19 has killed more than 4,600 people worldwide while affecting more than 126,000.

CONMEBOL cited the possibility of players not being able to travel from Europe due to coronavirus as a reason for its request.

"The member countries of CONMEBOL – Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Paraguay, Peru, Uruguay and Venezuela have requested the CONMEBOL to submit to FIFA's consideration the request to postpone the start of the qualifiers for the Qatar 2022 World Cup," the statement read in part.

Lionel Messi's Argentina are due to begin their qualifying campaign against Ecuador in Buenos Aires, while Brazil are scheduled to face Bolivia in Recife.

The other matchday one games are Paraguay-Peru, Uruguay-Chile and Colombia-Venezuela.

Argentina will open the 2020 Copa America with a blockbuster clash against Chile in Buenos Aires.

In a rematch of this year's third-place play-off, which Argentina won as Lionel Messi and Gary Medel were sent off, the teams will meet again at the El Monumental on June 12 next year.

While the draw took place on Tuesday, the nations already knew almost all of their opponents with teams split into zones for next year's tournament in Argentina and Colombia.

However, Australia – playing at their first Copa America – were drawn into Group A, which features Argentina, Bolivia, Uruguay, Chile and Paraguay.

Qatar, the other invited nation, will meet Colombia, Brazil, Venezuela, Ecuador and Peru.

Brazil will go into the tournament as defending champions after their success at home this year.

The top four teams in each group will advance to the quarter-finals.

Group A: Argentina, Australia, Bolivia, Uruguay, Chile, Paraguay.
Group B: Colombia, Brazil, Qatar, Venezuela, Ecuador, Peru.

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