Argentina vs Paraguay score, result, highlights as Otamendi goal enough for win while Messi hits post twice

Argentina completely dominated Paraguay from start to finish, both with and without Lionel Messi, and picked up three points in the process, although it was a bit more nervy than they would have liked at the end.

With Argentina pummeling their CONMEBOL World Cup qualifying opponents in Buenos Aires from the opening whistle, Nicolas Otamendi’s fourth-minute goal seemed to foreshadow a coming onslaught. Yet that was all Argentina would get, and while it was enough for a 1-0 victory, they could have had many, many more.

Lionel Messi came off the bench shortly after halftime, but even he was powerless to change the narrative, hitting the post twice including once directly off a corner.

Lautaro Martinez, Rodrigo de Paul, and Nico Gonzalez were all very active in the final third and had multiple chances, but none were able to find the all-important second goal to kill off the match. Yet in the end, Emiliano Martinez had himself another clean sheet as Paraguay failed to produce more than a single quality attacking chance.

The shutout gave Dibu an Argentine national team record, passing 609 minutes without conceding a goal, as Argentina have not been breached since Kylian Mbappe’s dramatic 118th minute equalizer in the 2022 World Cup final. Additionally, Lionel Scaloni has still never been beaten in World Cup qualifying as Argentina head coach.

The Sporting News followed the Argentina vs. Paraguay match live, providing score updates, commentary and highlights as they happened.

MORE: Where to watch Argentina vs. Paraguay in World Cup qualifying

Argentina vs Paraguay final score

  Score Goal scorers
Argentina 1 Otamendi (4′)
Paraguay 0

Kickoff: 8 p.m. local (7 p.m. ET / 4 p.m. PT)
Location: Estadio Monumental (Buenos Aires, Argentina)
Referee: Raphael Claus (BRA)

Starting lineups:

Argentina (4-3-3, right to left): 23. E. Martinez (GK) — 21. Molina, 13. Romero, 19. Otamendi, 3. Tagliafico — 7. De Paul, 20. Mac Allister, 8. E. Fernandez (Paredes, 80′) — 9. J. Alvarez (Messi, 53′), 22. L. Martinez, 15. N. Gonzalez.

Paraguay (5-4-1, right to left): 1. C. Coronel (GK) — 14. I. Ramirez (R. Rojas, 46′), 15. G. Gomez, 5. Balbuena, 6. Alonso (Villasanti, 76′), 4. Espinoza — 20. R Sanchez, 8. Campuzano (Ojeda, 70′), 10. Almiron, 19. Sosa — 21. Bareiro (Sanabria, 70′).

Argentina vs Paraguay live updates, highlights, commentary

FULLTIME: Argentina 1-0 Paraguay

Argentina are most certainly deserved victors as they walk away with all three points, but they made it harder than it had to be by failing to finish a whole host of great chances. The entire team was impressive until it came time to shoot, and even Lionel Messi couldn’t change the narrative as he hit the post twice.

All told thought, Nicolas Otamendi’s early goal was enough to see them through to all three points, as they top Paraguay at home and move to nine points from a possible nine to start World Cup qualifying.

Argentina vs Paraguay: Second Half

90+2 min: Chance, Argentina! Argentina have a very dangerous free-kick as Lionel Messi baits Gustavo Gomez into a foul just atop the penalty area in a central location. Gomez does well to dispossess Messi, but the Argentine is first back on the loose ball, expertly shielding the ball with his body, and Gomez obliges by barging in from behind.

With the set-piece, Messi hits the woodwork! Carlos Coronel is helpless to do anything but watch, rooted to the spot, and he sees it sail by him and strike the outside of the left post!

Gio Lo Celso comes on for Argentina to replace Rodrigo de Paul, who had a very good match.

89th min: As this game sputters towards a conclusion, Emiliano Martinez has set a new national team record for a shutout streak, crossing 609 minutes of play without conceding a goal. It’s an impressive mark nonetheless, but in fairness, he’s had almost nothing to do tonight, making just one (admittedly impressive) save.

Argentina have not conceded a single goal since the 2022 World Cup final. Four minutes of stoppage time are shown.

86th min: CONTROVERSY! Antonio Sanabria draws the ire of Lionel Messi, which you rarely see. Why? Replay shows it’s because Sanabria showered Messi with spit from behind. That’s disgusting! The officials missed it, but Messi obviously did not.

84th min: Chance, Argentina! Paraguay fail to clear on a number of occasions, and on recycle, Lautaro Martinez fires just inches over the crossbar! He’s in acres of space atop the penalty area shaded just right of the middle, and cutting onto his left, he rifles a shot just high! He should be hitting the target from there with so much space to shoot.

That’s the first real chance on goal from open play for either team in some time. The game has been mucked up a bit by the substitutions on both sides. 

77th min: Chance, Argentina! LIONEL MESSI HITS THE POST DIRECTLY FROM A CORNER! He floats an in-swinger that sails over a helpless Carlos Coronel and clangs the far top corner of the woodwork! That’s so close to an olimpico!

Enzo Fernandez is withdrawn by Argentina in favor of Leandro Paredes.

75th min: With Lionel Messi set to take a corner for Argentina, Junior Alonso is now down needing treatment. At first it seems like a cramp as a teammate stretches out his leg, but he continues to grimace in pain, and after the medical staff tends to the Paraguay defender for a bit, they signal to the bench that a change is required.

Alonso is strapped to a stretcher and continues to grimace in lots of pain. On comes Mathias Villasanti, signaling a potential change of formation.

70th min: Junior Alonso has got to be careful. Already on a yellow card, he fouls Lautaro Martinez hard and gets a talking too from the referee.

Paraguay make their second change of the match, a double swap as Antonio Sanabria and Braian Ojeda come on, replacing Antonio Bareiro and Alvaro Campuzano.

68th min: Rodrigo de Paul forces a save from Carlos Coronel! It’s from an extremely tight angle on the right, almost on top of the end line, so Coronel has his post covered well, but it wins a corner. The set-piece is wasted by being played short.

63rd min: It has to be said…Argentina have dropped their level since Lionel Messi has come on. That’s not to say its explicitly his fault, but the whole team has been sloppy since he entered the pitch. Paraguay have looked a bit more confident pressing the hosts, and it has caused some problems to them in possession.

57th min: Uh, how has Ramon Sosa got away without a booking here? He barges into Rodrigo de Paul extremely late for no reason, as he arrived well after the ball and threw his body into the Argentine midfielder. The referee has a chat with Sosa, but decides not to book him, somehow.

53rd min: Chance, Paraguay! The best attacking move of the match for the visitors nearly sees Ramon Sosa score a dramatic equalizer, but Emiliano Martinez makes a fingertips save to see the ball deflect just inches wide! It comes on a Route One move deep for Sosa who brings the ball down well and fires a vicious shot.

Lionel Messi enters for Julian Alvarez, and takes the captain’s armband from Nicolas Otamendi with a chuckle, as Otamendi puts it on Messi himself despite Messi telling him not to give it up.

It’s kind of odd that Lionel Scaloni would turn down the chance to bring Messi on at halftime without burning a substitution window, only to see him enter only eight minutes later, but here we are.

50th min: Antonio Bareiro picks up a hilarious yellow card after a coming together with Cristiano Romero. Bareiro fouls Romero and gets away with it, and Romero reacts later off the ball by bumping the Paraguay forward, who throws himself dramatically to the turf. It’s the reaction which earns the booking, while Romero is lucky to get away with his brainless moment.

Kickoff: They’ve begun the second half, and while Lionel Messi has not entered the pitch yet, he’s warming up on the touchline and likely to come on soon. Alexis Mac Allister is fouled from behind just seconds after the restart.

Robert Rojas has come on for Paraguay in the first substitution of the match, entering at right-back for Ivan Ramirez.

HALFTIME: Argentina 1-0 Paraguay

Somehow, some way, Nicolas Otamendi’s fourth-minute goal remains the only successful strike of this game so far. Argentina completely and utterly dominated the first 45 minutes, but have precious little to show for it.

The hosts pummeled Carlos Coronel’s net, and while the Red Bulls goalkeeper has made a few saves, it’s mostly been Argentina’s wastefulness that has seen them fail to follow up their early opener. Rodrigo de Paul hit the post, Alexis Mac Allister probably should have had a penalty, and Nico Gonzalez has missed a few great chances from the left.

Overall, Lionel Scaloni will be pleased with his side’s performance, but the match hangs in the balance on the scoresheet. In reality, thought, Paraguay need vast improvement if they are to snatch a result after being meticulously carved to pieces.

Argentina vs Paraguay: First Half

45th min: Chance, Argentina! Nico Gonzalez misses! The hosts break down the right, and Enzo Fernandez has acres of space to shoot at the top of the penalty area, but instead squares it left to Nico Gonzalez. The Argentina winger also has tons of room to shoot, but he’s at a tight angle, and Carlos Coronel’s positioning leaves him with a very small window to aim for.

Needing a precise finish, Gonzalez comes up empty, dragging it wide across the face of goal. It’s not far off, but it’s missing the required precision! How have Argentina not scored a second????

42nd min: Chance, Argentina! RODRIGO DE PAUL HITS THE POST! It’s SO close from the Argentine midfielder, who’s been very active in the final third! After cutting onto his left, he brings it back onto his right and unleashes a curler which dances past a diving Carlos Coronel and strikes the inside of the post!

The ball agonizingly careens along the face of goal and skitters away. Just another half-inch more towards the frame and it would have deflected in instead of out!

41st min: Paraguay are getting extremely frustrated with their lack of attacking possession. They get into the final third for the first time in ages, but with no support, Antonio Bareiro blasts a hopeless effort from a long way out, the shot blocked by his defender who’s all over the lone Paraguay striker like white on rice.

38th min: Chance, Argentina! A deep delivery from way out on the right touchline meets the head of a leaping Nico Gonzalez at the far post, but it’s saved well by Carlos Coronel! The header was from a very tight angle, but the Red Bulls goalkeeper still had work to do as he reacted quickly to stick out his left foot and make the reflex stop.

36th min: Chance, Argentina! The referee very dramatically waves away a penalty shout from Alexis Mac Allister! A corner is cleared to the Liverpool midfielder at the top of the penalty area, and he does brilliantly to dribble through multiple defenders. Before he can get a shot off, he’s bumped to the ground, and replay shows he has a clear grievance with the no-call! VAR does not intervene.

34th min: Alvaro Campuzano is whistled for a foul after hip checking Nicolas Tagliafico to the ground, handing Argentina a dangerous free-kick just inside the attacking third. The call by the official sends both Campuzano and Paraguay manager Daniel Garnero into a frenzy, as neither agree with the decision, but it’s the right call for overly aggressive body positioning.

The chance is wasted, however, as it is easily cleared and Argentina must reset.

30th min: Chance, Argentina! Lautaro Martinez has a vicious shot agonizingly deflected wide! He’s played in on a cutback from Julian Alvarez down the right, and while the Inter striker has a quality hit from the penalty spot, it just clips a defender and loops inches over the crossbar! That’s unlucky!

Argentina are absolutely pummeling the Paraguay back line with silky move after silky move, and the visitors are barely surviving. It’s been an onslaught through the first half-hour, especially across the last 10 minutes or so. The one-touch passing through midfield has been essentially unplayable, and on the rare occasion they do lose the ball, they’ve won it right back within five seconds.

25th min: Julian Alvarez has a shot saved from a very tight angle by Carlos Coronel, conceding a corner. The chance was threaded in beautifully by his strike partner Lautaro Martinez. The set-piece is looped well off target by the head of Cristian Romero.

21st min: The first yellow card of the game is shown to Junior Alonso who comes flying into a challenge with Alexis Mac Allister and catches him high on the ankle. A very bad tackle — not quite worthy of a red, but it’s not far off either.

16th min: Ouch, Lautaro Martinez tries to latch onto a wonderful vertical flick from Enzo Fernandez up the gut, but he’s just a split-second too late, and he goes sliding into the ribs of Paraguay goalkeeper Carlos Coronel. That looked painful for the Red Bulls goalie, but he’s ok to continue.

It’s a bit surprising that Lautaro got away with no booking from that really dangerous decision.

13th min: Chance, Argentina! Oh no, it’s a terribly bad miss from Nico Gonzalez. The Argentine winger breaks down the left, and with the Paraguay defense lagging behind, he’s got plenty of room to shoot across the face of goal from a somewhat tight angle.

The “shot” is so bad it’s hard to tell if he was trying to put it on frame or square it for a teammate at the back post, but it’s a tragic attempt either way, as there was nobody anywhere close at the far stick to meet it.

9th min: Paraguay get their first attacking move playing long to the striker, but after a few nervy moments the Argentina defense recovers and gets back on the ball.

4th min: GOAL! ARGENTINA! IT’S A GOLAZO FROM THE CAPTAIN NICOLAS OTAMENDI!

The first corner of the match goes to Argentina, and as Rodrigo de Paul floats it deep and over the pack, it comes to the Argentina defender who produces an absolutely STUNNING whipped volley, and strikes the ball cleanly by chopping his leg down on the bouncing ball, blasting it through the trees and into the back of the net!

Kickoff: The match is under way from Buenos Aires! Lionel Messi starts on the bench for Argentina, but should come into the match early in the second half. We’ll see what Lautaro Martinez and Julian Alvarez can do together up front against Paraguay under new management.

Argentina vs Paraguay: Pre-match commentary, analysis, stats, and more

15 mins to kickoff: Darwin Nunez deposited a late penalty for Uruguay to share the points with Colombia in a 2-2 draw. It’s far too early to be watching outside results too intently, but regardless, that’s a great result for Paraguay, who will want every CONMEBOL nation outside the top two to drop as many points as possible.

The messier it gets around Paraguay, the better a chance they have of securing a qualifying spot in the expanded World Cup field.

30 mins to kickoff: Paraguay have a new manager, as Daniel Garnero makes his debut as the new permanent boss. He spent the last two years in charge of Paraguayan giants Libertad, taking over for Guillermo Barros Schelotto who was let go after the September qualifiers just three days shy of his two-year hire anniversary.

54-year-old Garnero is an Argentine who made one appearance for the national team as a player, and spent most of his career with Argentine club Independiente. He’s managed at the club level in Paraguay since 2015 with Sol de America, Guarani, and Olimpia before his spell at Libertad.

It’s quite the test for Garnero in his debut match, taking on Lionel Messi and the defending World Cup champions Argentina, his home nation. My intention is always to play with the ball. We must be smart and aggressive in recoveries.” A bold claim by the Paraguay boss.

45 mins to kickoff: This is a really big match for Lautaro Martinez. He’s had an outstanding start to the Serie A season with Inter, scoring 11 goals in 10 matches, but since slumping in the World Cup, he’s yet to recover his national team place.

With Lionel Messi reportedly set to come off the bench at halftime, he will have a short leash tonight with which to break his 11-match scoreless streak at the international level. Time is running out for Lautaro to prove he is still a viable selection option for Lionel Scaloni.

1 hour to kickoff: Lineups are in, and it’s exactly as we thought for Argentina, with Lionel Messi on the bench while the duo of Lautaro Martinez and Julian Alvarez start together for the first time ever. Nicolas Tagliafico retains his left-back spot despite the return of Marcos Acuna.

For Paraguay, however, there’s a host of changes. Ivan Ramirez comes in to play right-back for Robert Rojas for just his fourth international cap. The entire midfield three is swapped out as well, with Mattias Espinoza, Alvaro Campuzano, and Richard Sanchez entering the fray. Adam Bareiro takes over at striker for Gabriel Avalos, earning his debut international cap.

1 hour 15 mins to kick: James Rodriguez scored a golazo in the early match tonight to put Colombia in front of Uruguay 1-0 before halftime. It’s his first-ever goal against Uruguay, giving him a goal against six of the nine CONMEBOL opponents.

Tonight’s opponents, Argentina and Paraguay, represent two of the three teams he still has yet to score against, with Brazil the other. Uruguay had briefly leveled the match early in the second half, but Colombia restored its advantage minutes later.

Watch the James Rodriguez goal vs Uruguay

1 hour 30 mins to kick: With the understanding that Lionel Messi will start tonight’s match on the bench, reports indicate that Nicolas Otamendi will wear the captain’s armband until Messi enters the pitch.

1 hour 45 mins to kick: There was a rumor that Lionel Messi could be headed to Barcelona on loan to cover the gap left by Inter Miami’s failure to qualify for the MLS playoffs, but the rumor never made much sense, and it’s been squashed on numerous fronts.

Inter Miami coach Gerardo Martino made light of the rumor in his post-match press conference over the weekend after defeat to FC Cincinnati left them mathematically eliminated, saying that he’d only go to Spain “for fun.” Meanwhile, Fabrizio Romano also shot it down from a journalistic standpoint.

There isn’t enough of a break for him to reasonably integrate with Barcelona, and at 36 years old he’s sure to welcome the extended time off.

2 hours to kickoff: Lionel Messi’s club Inter Miami were eliminated from MLS playoff contention after their latest defeat, a 1-0 loss to FC Cincinnati last weekend. Messi had missed the previous four matches but returned to the field for the final 30 minutes. He was powerless to turn the tide of the game, after Inter Miami had missed so many gilt-edged chances in the first half.

Had Inter Miami been still in the playoff hunt, with a potential postseason run on the horizon, Argentina might have played it a bit safer with Messi in this international window. Yet now that his long offseason break is confirmed, Messi may be more aggressive with his minutes here knowing that, after Inter Miami’s final two meaningless regular-season matches, he will only have international breaks to keep him sharp until February.

According to a report earlier today, Messi will not start tonight, but is likely to play much or all of the second half, while Lautaro Martinez and Julian Alvarez both start a national team match for the first time. World Cup hero Mario Kempes is a big fan of that.

Argentina vs Paraguay starting lineups & team news

Argentina head coach Lionel Scaloni named a bloated 36-man squad for the matches against Paraguay and Peru this month, but Angel Di MariaPaulo Dybala, and Juan Foyth were forced to withdraw due to injury. Lisandro Martinez is also unavailable after having to undergo another foot operation.

Now that Inter Miami’s playoff run is officially over, Argentina can feel a little better about deploying Lionel Messi at full 90-minute use despite his recent fitness issues, knowing his club season is nearly over and he’ll have months of rest upcoming. Messi missed the last match against Bolivia, and missed four Inter Miami games after, but he returned for a half-hour of action in their final fixture before the international break. However, he doesn’t start, but is reportedly fit enough to come off the bench for most or all of the second half.

Nicolas Tagliafico started both matches in September, and while Marcos Acuna is back with the team following an injury, the former retains his starting spot. Messi’s club teammate Facundo Farias was also included on the roster but it’d be surprising if he saw the field.

Argentina starting lineup (4-3-3): E. Martinez (GK) — Molina, Romero, Otamendi, Tagliafico — De Paul, Mac Allister, E. Fernandez — J. Alvarez, L. Martinez, N. Gonzalez.

Argentina subs (12): Armani (GK), Musso (GK), Quarta, Montiel, Acuna, Ocampos, Paredes, Lo Celso, Pezzella, G. Rodriguez, Garnacho, Messi.

Paraguay head coach Daniel Garnero has rung the changes after falling to Venezuela last time out, making five alterations to that starting lineup. The entire midfield is swapped out, while Adam Bareiro takes over at striker, earning his debut international cap in place of Gabriel Avalos.

Forward Miguel Almiron is Paraguay’s most prominent goalscoring threat and is in good form, with three goals in his past five matches for Newcastle United.

Paraguay have questions at goalkeeper, as mainstay Antony Silva has been phased out, leaving three inexperienced internationals currently on the roster. New York Red Bulls starter Carlos Coronel earned his first two caps in the September matches and he remains in net here. Lionel Messi’s Inter Miami teammate Diego Gomez was named to the Paraguay roster but was forced to withdraw due to injury.

Paraguay starting lineup (5-4-1): C. Coronel (GK) — I. Ramirez, G. Gomez, Balbuena, Alonso, Espinoza — R Sanchez, Campuzano, Almiron, Bareiro — Sosa.

Paraguay subs (12): Rojas (GK), Espinola (GK), R. Rojas, Alderete, Avalos, Sanabria, Villaba, Galarza, M. Rojas, A. Romero, Gimenez, Ojeda.

How to watch Argentina vs Paraguay

Following an agreement at the 11th hour of the September international break, broadcast rights for Argentina’s home World Cup qualifiers in the United States have been secured by Telemundo and Univision. That means viewers in the USA can watch this match on Universo, with streaming on Fubo as well as the company’s premium subscription services.

The match is not set to be available globally to regions including Australia, Canada, and the United Kingdom, as CONMEBOL has yet to sell broadcast rights to a provider in those territories.

Other territories with broadcast options for this match include Malaysia (Astro Supersport), Argentina (TyC Sports), Brazil (SporTV 2), France (L’Equipe Web), Spain (Movistar), and Saudi Arabia (SSC).

MORE: Watch Premier League matches live with Fubo in USA | Watch EPL in Canada

  TV channel Streaming
USA Universo Fubo, Telemundo Deportes en Vivo, Universo NOW
UK  —  —
Australia  —  —
Canada  —  —
India  —  —
New Zealand  —  —
Malaysia Astro Supersport Astro Go, sooka
Singapore  —  —
Hong Kong  —  —

Argentina vs Paraguay betting odds & lines

In Canada, bet CONMEBOL at Sports Interaction: See the latest odds for Argentina vs Paraguay here

  Argentina
win
Draw Paraguay
win
Both teams
to score Y / N
Over / Under
2.5 goals
ARG
-1.5
PAR
+1.5
BetMGM
(USA)
-375 +450 +1050 +145 / -210 -135 / -110 -130 -110

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