Chile 1-2 Argentina: Di Maria and Martinez strikes extend Albiceleste's unbeaten run

Chile 1-2 Argentina: Di Maria and Martinez strikes extend Albiceleste's unbeaten run

Already-qualified Argentina flexed their muscle without Lionel Messi with a 2-1 away win over Chile to leave the hosts' 2022 World Cup qualification hopes at major risk on Thursday.

Angel Di Maria and Lautaro Martinez netted first-half goals around Ben Brereton-Diaz's looping header as La Albiceleste extended their unbeaten run to 27 games.

Lautaro Martinez,Argentina

The victory improves second-placed Argentina's CONMEBOL World Cup qualifying campaign to 32 points from 14 games, while Chile are battling to reach Qatar 2022.

La Roja, who suffered their second straight home defeat, have 16 points from 15 games and are seventh in the standings, three points behind Uruguay in the fourth automatic qualification spot after they won 1-0 in Paraguay.

Paris Saint-Germain winger Di Maria silenced the home Calama crowd in the ninth minute when he curled home a trademark left-foot strike from outside the box for his 23rd international goal.

Blackburn Rovers attacker Brereton-Diaz leveled the game up in the 20th minute when he precisely headed over Argentina goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez from Marcelino Nunez's diagonal cross.

Argentina restored their lead, just as Chile goalkeeper Claudio Bravo had gestured to be substituted due to injury, with the veteran stopper unable to hold Rodrigo De Paul's long-range strike allowing Martinez to fire home the rebound in the 34th minute.

The visitors weathered Chile's late pressure, with Brereton-Diaz forcing a good low save from Martinez with an 84th-minute header.

What does it mean? Argentina extends streak

Argentina have already assured their spot for Qatar 2022 but the 2021 Copa America winners continue to make their mark with their unbeaten run which extends beyond two years. The last time La Albiceleste lost was in July 2019 in the Copa America semi-finals to Brazil.

No Messi, no worries

Captain Messi is absent for Argentina's latest qualifiers but the two members of the squad with the most international goals stepped up in his absence. Messi's 33-year-old PSG teammate Di Maria netted the opener, while Martinez grabbed his 18th international goal in his 36th appearance for his country.

Chile on the ropes

Mario Lasarte's La Roja have an uphill battle to qualify for Qatar, even if they are only one point behind fifth-placed Colombia in the play-offs spot. Chile have a tough run to come and have lost two in a row after a good three-game winning run late last year.

What's next?

Argentina host Colombia in Cordoba on Tuesday, while Chile make the trip to eighth-placed Bolivia in a crunch clash.

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