Buenos Aires, Nov 14 (IANS) Lucas Lima scored a second-half equaliser as Brazil earned a 1-1 draw with Argentina in their World Cup qualifier here on Friday. Lima’s 58th-minute volley cancelled out Ezequiel Lavezzi’s opener in front of a capacity crowd at the Monumental stadium, reports Xinhua.
The result piled further pressure on Argentina’s coach Gerardo Martino, whose position has been questioned in recent days by local media. Argentina are winless after three matches in the South American zone qualifiers and face a daunting trip to Barranquilla to play the vastly improved Colombia on Tuesday. Brazil, who have a win and a draw from their three matches, will be quietly satisfied with Friday’s result ahead of Tuesday’s home clash with Peru in Salvador.
Brazil came into the match having lost five of their last eight competitive matches and for most of Thursday’s first half they looked like a team badly lacking confidence. Argentina came close to scoring twice in the first 15 minutes via efforts from Gonzalo Higuain and Angel Di Maria. The former Real Madrid teammates then combined to set up Lavezzi’s goal.
Di Maria picked out Higuain with an inch-perfect pass on the counterattack and the Napoli man had time to look up before placing his cross to perfection for Lavezzi to sweep into the net. Brazil’s best chance of the first half came three minutes before the break when David Luiz narrowly headed over after a Willian free kick.
Returning from a four-game international ban, Brazil captain Neymar was anonymous early but became more involved after halftime. The forward was booed by sections of the crowd, an occurrence that became increasingly more common as the game progressed. Despite Brazil’s improved sharpness after the halftime break, it was Argentina who came closest to scoring in the early stages of the second half.
Higuain combined with Lavezzi to set up Ever Banega, who fired a shot against the post after his first attempt was blocked by Brazil’s defence. Brazil coach Dunga withdrew the ineffective Ricardo Oliveira just before the hour mark and introduced Douglas Costa in a bid to ignite his team. The change paid immediate dividends with the winger playing a vital role in the equaliser. Dani Alves began the move with a lofted pass into the box which Costa headed against the bar.
The ball fell into the path of Lucas Lima, who slammed the rebound past Romero. Both teams had a chance to score in a frantic final few minutes. Neymar’s dipping 25-yard shot forced a finger-tip save from Romero while at the other end Nicolas Otamendi headed just over Alisson’s bar. Brazil played out the last five minutes with 10 men after Luiz was shown a second yellow card for a crude tackle on Lucas Biglia.