LA PLATA - Argentina escaped a
shock upset in their Copa America opener on Friday when
substitute Sergio Aguero's late volley earned the hosts a 1-1
draw with Bolivia.
Bolivia soaked up the pressure in the first half before
snatching the lead early in the second through Edivaldo Rojas.
The hosts had to wait until the 77th minute for the equaliser
when Aguero slammed the ball home.
Argentina's Lionel Messi was marked tightly by the Bolivian
defense and had few chances to shine.
"It is not what we expected, now we must improve and we win
our remaining [group] matches," a visibly disappointed Messi
told reporters. "Now we need tranquility."
Having weathered a first-half storm at the Ciudad de La
Plata stadium, Bolivia stunned Argentina two minutes into the
second half when Jhasmany Campos hit a corner low to the near
post where Rojas back-heeled it past 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 then got up
to block his second effort.
"We had a couple of situations that if we'd put them away we
could have won the match," Bolivia's Argentine-born coach
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," he told
"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 Nicolas
Burdisso chested down a cross from Marcos Rojo and Aguero
volleyed home. Minutes after his goal, Aguero might have
snatched a win for the hosts but his shot brought a diving save
from Bolivia goalie Carlos Arias.
The draw was a positive result for Bolivia, said goalscorer
"This result is very important psychologically for our next
match [against Costa Rica]," he told a news conference.
While the first half was dominated by Argentina, the only
shot on target came from the ultra defensive Bolivians' single
chance when Martins squared the ball to Rojas and his weak but
well-directed 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 striker Ezequiel Lavezzi
broke in from the right and sent a low shot just wide of the far
post. Messi then linked with Carlos Tevez but the moved fizzled
out for a corner, and midfielder Esteban Cambiasso was unable to
capitalise on a loose ball after a jinking Messi run.
In an exciting finish, either side could have snatched
victory as Argentina created chances while Bolivia attempted to
hit them on the break.
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