ARGENTINA cruised past Peru in Lima with one of their best displays in quite some time.
Two great counter-attacking goals from Nico Gonzalez and Lautaro Martinez saw the Argentines make light work of the Peruvians, who huffed and puffed but just didn't have the same quality in the final third.
- <a href='http://www.thesun.co.uk/sport' rel='external nofollow ugc' class='url'>Alex Terrell</a>
SNAP OF THE DAY
Lionel Messi is pleased with Argentina's result in Lima.
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Here are all the results from tonight's South American World Cup qualifiers…
Ecuador 6 Colombia 1
Venezuela 2 Chile 1
Paraguay 2 Bolivia 2
Uruguay 0 Brazil 2
Peru 0 Argentina 2
Lautaro Martinez had one shot and netted one goal for Argentina today.
That strike leaves him with 11 goals in 21 appearances for the Albiceleste.
Any opposition that is focusing completely on Messi might be making a big mistake…
PAOL THE OTHER ONE
If you think Messi is important for Argentina, check out this incredible Paolo Guerrero stat for Peru.
Los Incas haven't won without their captain since the World Cup intercontinental play-off against New Zealand in 2017.
With the Internacional striker now 36 and out with a long-term injury, the future looks rather worrying for the Peruvians.
To give an idea of what a big result this could be, Argentina have not beaten Peru away in World Cup qualifying since 2004.
All of their past three meetings away to Los Incas have ended in a draw.
In addition to that, the Argentines laid ghosts to rest at one of their biggest bogey grounds in the altitude of La Paz by beating Bolivia 2-1 last month.
Travel sickness seems to be a thing of the past for this team.
Peru's Andre Carrillo: “The first halves have cost us a lot.
“We have suffered from a couple of lapses in concentration.
“Individually we have to do more.”
CAV SOME OF THAT
With Uruguay up next, the big news for Argentina is that Edinson Cavani is set to miss out through suspension.
The Man Utd star was controversially sent off after a VAR review for treading on Richarlison's ankle in La Celeste's 2-0 defeat to Brazil.
Martinez: “I think today we played really good football and we can leave very content.
“With Paraguay I didn't have a good game individually.
“Today I had to reverse that image, more than anything personally, because I have to work for the team.”
Lautaro Martinez: “Today we were calmer when we had the ball.
“We managed [the game] with patience and found the spaces.
“Paredes saw the movement I made and played a fair pass that he could define.”
The one question Argentines will have after this international break is whether they can break down more stubborn teams than Peru, who came to attack.
They only came away with a 1-1 draw at home to a niggly Paraguay side last weekend and it's where they have struggled in recent years.
But they might not have to wait too long to find out whether they have cracked the code… it's Uruguay up next in March.
OUT ON A LIM
It's victory in Lima for Argentina with one of their most uncharacteristic performances but also one of their best in recent years.
To see a team like Argentina go to Peru away and be happy to sit in two banks of four and pick them off on the counter-attack would not have been what many people at all expected.
However, Peru created very few chances despite spending much of the game in the Argentine half, whereas the visitors could have had four or five.
Credit to that has to go to coach Lionel Scaloni, who has reduced dependence on Messi and let other talents shine through.
The gutsy pick of Stuttgart's Nico Gonzalez at left-wing appears to have really paid dividends.
He has two goals from two games and was so hungry that he looked nothing less than fuming not to have notched more.
Messi: “Always when I come here I try to give the maximum and I feel qualified to fight for this shirt.
“I feel good to continue working and adding games.”
Messi: “The second half the other day was very good and I think we are continuing along the same line, even raising the level a bit.
“I think this is the path we have to follow. Little by little we are becoming stronger as a group.”
MESSI ON THE MIC
Lionel Messi is giving his view of Argentina's win.
He says: “I'm happy with the victory. We needed it after the game [against Paraguay] we played the other day.
“From the beginning we had a great match. The goals came and we created many, many chances.”
POINTS ON THE BOARD
Argentina have reason to be very happy with their start after picking up ten points from their first four qualifiers.
They tuck in just behind Brazil who are on 12 out of 12, with the traditional powerhouses appearing to reassert control in South America following a chaotic decade which has seen the likes of Colombia, Chile and Uruguay challenge for honours.
Peru sit joint bottom with Bolivia on one point and know they must improve for their next two fixtures in March, which see them face the Bolivians in La Paz followed by Venezuela back in Lima.
FULL TIME – PERU 0 ARGENTINA 2
89: PERU 0 ARGENTINA 2
It's an all-Serie A swap as Papu Gomez of Atalanta replaces Lautaro Martinez of Inter.
Martinez can return to the San Siro very pleased with his exploits tonight.
87: PERU 0 ARGENTINA 2
Calcaterra replaces Yotun for Peru.
85: PERU 0 ARGENTINA 2
Messi robs the Peruvian defender and earns himself a run at goal.
But the Peruvian recovers well to nab the ball back.
80: PERU 0 ARGENTINA 2
Christian Cueva goes off for Raul Ruidiaz for Peru.
78: PERU 0 ARGENTINA 2
It's a yellow card for Peru goalkeeper Pedro Gallese!
Angel Di Maria is played through and Gallese comes charging out of his box.
The keeper wins the ball the first time but comes back for a second bite of the cherry and takes out the PSG man.
Neither player willing to give an inch.
76: PERU 0 ARGENTINA 2
Messi coming to life now as he gets a run at goal, beats the defender and fires a left-footed shot past Gallese's right-hand post.
OT YOU GO
Nicolas Otamendi's yellow card means he will miss March's crucial qualifier at home to Uruguay.
72: PERU 0 ARGENTINA 2
Very nearly an instant impact from Angel Di Maria as he forces a brilliant save from Gallese with a powerful low strike.
71: PERU 0 ARGENTINA 2
Angel Di Maria comes on for Argentina.
Nico Gonzalez is the man going off and he can be very pleased with his night's work.
Though he looked more frustrated not to have scored more than one goal in this evening.
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