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Agüero saves Argentina’s blushes

La Plata July 2 (agencies)
Published on 2 Jul. 2011 11:11 PM IST
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Argentina escaped a shock reverse in their Copa América opener on Friday when the substitute Sergio Agüero’s late volley earned the hosts a 1-1 draw with Bolivia. Having weathered a first-half storm, Bolivia stunned Argentina two minutes into the second half when Jhasmani Campos hit a corner low to the near post where Edivaldo Rojas backheeled it past the Argentina goalkeeper Sergio Romero. Marcelo Martins looked set to give Bolivia a two-goal lead on the hour when he beat Argentina’s offside trap but Romero dived to touch the ball away from the striker’s feet before blocking his second effort. “We had a couple of situations that if we’d put them away we could have won the match,” Bolivia’s Argentina-born manager, Gustavo Quinteros, said. “I think the team settled and were more solid in the final minutes of the first half and almost all of the second.  For us, after such a short time working together and few matches, this is a good result that motivates us to carry on.” Argentina equalised with 13 minutes left when Nicolás Burdisso chested down a cross from Marcos Rojo and Agüero volleyed home. Minutes after his goal, the Atlético Madrid striker might have snatched a win for his side but his shot brought a diving save from the Bolivia goalkeeper Carlos Arias. While the first half was dominated by Argentina, the only shot on target came from when Martins squared the ball to Rojas and his weak shot was saved by Romero.  Apart from that chance it was almost one-way traffic towards the Bolivia box with Argentina winning a string of corners but failing to get a clean shot on target. The hosts almost broke through when the striker Ezequiel Lavezzi broke in from the right and sent a low shot just wide of the far post.  Lionel Messi then linked with Carlos Tevez but the moved fizzled out and the midfielder Esteban Cambiasso was unable to capitalise on a loose ball after a jinking run by the Barcelona forward. In an exciting finish, either side could have snatched victory as Argentina created chances while Bolivia attempted to hit them on the break.  “It is not what we expected, now we must improve and we win our remaining matches,” said Messi. 

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