Argentina were held to a disappointing 1-1 draw at home by Bolivia in the third round of the South American qualifiers for the 2014 FIFA World Cup™ in Brazil.The home side even had to come from a goal down as Ezequiel Lavezzi levelled the opener from Bolivia's Martins Moreno as many of the fans at the poorly attended match booed as they left the stadium.
Bolivia made their intentions clear from early on as they packed their half of the field, making it difficult for Argentina to create clear-cut chances. Javier Pastore was charged with supplying Lionel Messi and Gonzalo Higuain but found himself heavily marked for most of the match.
Argentina looked to have created an opening after 21 minutes, but Messi was penalised for a foul when he set up the chance for Higuain and Ecuadorian referee Carlos Vera awarded the visitors a free-kick. Messi then forced a good save out of Bolivia goalkeeper Carlos Arias before a Pastore shot came back off the frame of the goal.
Bolivia had the first chance of the second half, but Pablo Escobar shot over the bar after a mistake by Argentina's Martin Demichelis had presented him with the opening. Ten minutes into the second half another mistake by Demichelis was punished as Moreno beat keeper Sergio Romero to open the scoring.
Lavezzi, who had come on as a substitute to replace Ricky Alvarez, as he levelled the scores four minutes later. Fernando Gago set up the chance and Lavezzi netted the equaliser with a low shot from just inside the area.
Lavezzi went close to scoring a second for Argentina on two occasions, first firing wide from Higuain's pass before putting a header wide of the target. Messi also went close to scoring, failing to get a good shot in after being set up by Pastore and then hitting another effort wide.
But Argentina were unable to break down the Bolivia defence for a second time and had to settle for an unexpected and disappointing draw. "I'm frustrated because we had chances but we didn't have luck, we need to win whatever comes," said Messi after the game.