Argentina’s U23 men’s national football team tied 3-3 against Paraguay in its second Conmebol Pre-Olympic Tournament’s final stage game and is on the brink of elimination. The team led by Javier Mascherano has two points after two games and needs a win against Brazil in its final game on Sunday to secure one of the two spots available for the 2024 Paris Olympics.
The Albiceleste came out of the gates firing and took the lead early in the game, with forward Pablo Solari tapping-in a cross by midfielder Cristian Medina after just three minutes.
Argentina had more chances to extend its lead throughout the first half, but it was Paraguay who ended up scoring to tie the game after an unlucky deflection sent a free kick by Diego Gómez into the net in the 42nd minute.
Early in the second half, things remained very similar, with Argentina dominating the ball and creating scoring chances. Yet, it was Paraguay who scored again, with Gómez assisting incoming fullback Alan Núñez for the 2-1 after 70 minutes.
With Argentina against the ropes, the team managed to tie it up 2-2 after Qatar winner Thiago Almada converted a penalty kick at the 80-minute mark.
The game still had plenty of emotions to offer in the final 10 minutes that were left. A mistake by Almada in the build-up gifted Paraguay a golden chance in the 90th minute, with forward Enso González scoring the 3-2 for the Albirroja.
The Albiceleste came back to tie it in the last second of the sixth added minute, when a deflection from a long-range effort by Almada fell to the feet of midfielder Federico Redondo, who wrestled with the defenders and the goalkeeper to tap it into the net for the final 3-3.
“We have to adjust some details,” said Redondo after the game, adding that he thought the team had been playing well and deserved to win. The midfielder will miss the decider vs. Brazil after receiving a second yellow card.
In the press conference, Mascherano wasn’t happy with the criticism he and his team have received. “Maybe they’re in luck and we’ve only got one game left,” he said. “I can’t get too hung up on what people are saying. […] If people are criticizing me, maybe they’re right. I focus on doing the best I can.
”Despite managing just two points in two final stage games, Argentina is still in charge of its fate. Brazil’s 2-1 win over Venezuela means a win against the Verdeamarelha is all Mascherano’s team needs to secure a spot in Paris 2024. Any other result sees them out.