Football

Sampaoli slams Uruguay's defensive approach

Argentina coach says opponents were clearly looking for a draw

Uruguay and Argentina drew 0-0 in an uninspiring but hotly contested World Cup qualifier in Montevideo yesterday morning (Singapore time), leaving both sides still needing points to book their spots at Russia 2018.

But it was the defensive tactics of the hosts that irked Argentina coach Jorge Sampaoli, who said that his team must be "more aggressive" in the final third of the field when they play last-placed Venezuela on Wednesday.

He said: "We played against opponents that were always looking to block any opening. It has left a sour taste in our mouths for not winning.

"We went looking to play football every time, but they were always in their own area.

"We were hoping for an open match but it was never the case.

"They defended in the middle of the pitch. Their intentions were clear."

Uruguay had the better of the first half and Argentina were on top during the second period but neither team posed much of a goal threat in a typically tense encounter.

Uruguay's Diego Godin had a goal chalked off for offside in the first half and Luis Suarez saw his 45-metre attempt to lob goalkeeper Sergio Romero sail narrowly over.

At the other end, Lucas Biglia had a 30-metre strike deflected just wide and Lionel Messi saw a shot turned around the post after a brilliant, jinking run and one-two with Paulo Dybala.

Suarez, who recovered from a right knee injury just in time to play, limped off with eight minutes left, but said on Twitter that he had just suffered a cramp.

"An important point to keep us going and dreaming of the World Cup," he tweeted.

The draw left Argentina in fifth place in the South American qualifying table on 23 points, behind Chile on goal difference.

WINLESS

Uruguay, who have now gone six games without a win, are a point above them in third.

The top four teams qualify automatically for Russia 2018 while the fifth-placed side go into a play-off against a team from Oceania.

Brazil, the only one of the 10 South American teams to have qualified for Russia, lead the table on 36 points after defeating Ecuador 2-0 at home yesterday morning .

The win was coach Tite's ninth consecutive victory in competitive matches since he took over as coach in June last year.

Substitute Philippe Coutinho, who has yet to feature for his club Liverpool this season apparently due to a "back injury", didn't show any signs of an discomfort when he linked up well with Gabriel Jesus to score Brazil's second goal in the 75th minute. Paulino had given Brazil a 69th-minute lead.

Brazil's winger Willian said after the game: "It was another important result, the run we're on is very good.

"The first half was difficult, we couldn't find space but, in the second half, we got the ball moving faster and found the way to goal." - WIRE SERVICES

 OTHER RESULTS

  • Venezuela 0 Colombia 0
  • Chile 0 Paraguay 3
  • Peru 2 Bolivia 1

 

 

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