Argentina failed to make up for their disappointing opening draw with Bolivia by being held 0-0 by Colombia, compromising their bid to reach the Copa America quarter-finals.

Once again, despite on paper having an embarrassment of riches in an attack spearheaded by Lionel Messi and Carlos Tevez, La Albiceleste managed to flunk what was their first-ever competitive international in the north-eastern city of Santa Fe.

The Brigadier Estanislao Lopez stadium is nicknamed Cementerio de los Elefantes (Cemetery of the Elephants), and unless Sergio Batista's side can pull out a radical improvement in their final Group A match against Costa Rica then their hopes of a record 15th title will soon be buried.

Indeed, the hosts could have lost, and would have had Dayro Moreno not missed a sitter on 25 minutes, with the goal at his mercy following a mix-up in the Argentinian defence.

Colombia remain top of the pool with four points, having seen off the Costa Ricans, who meet Bolivia tomorrow.

A 40,000 crowd watched with horrified fascination as the team that had so laboured to find its feet against the Bolivians once again struggled to impress, showing no sign that it can end an 18-year trophy drought.

Messi's sloping shoulders and scowls told their own story, but Batista left him and Tevez out there to soak up the full 90 minutes of punishment. The Argentinian coach added to his attacking options by throwing on opening-day scorer Sergio Aguero for Ezequiel Lavezzi on the hour, and then Gonzalo Higuain for Ever Banega with 20 minutes remaining.

But still a breakthrough proved elusive in a dour game which had none of the drama of a hat-trick of missed penalties by former Argentina forward Martin Palermo against Colombia in 1999, or indeed the latter's 5-0 romp in a 1994 FIFA World Cup USA™ qualifier.

Yet that was about all the home fans had to be thankful for - that at least they did not have to revisit either of those nightmares.

Now Argentina simply must beat Costa Rica in Cordoba on Monday if they are to repair their fading credibility.