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06 October 2017, 06:03 | Christie Tate
Jorge Sampaoli's side sit precariously in fifth place in the South America qualifying group
Lionel Messi'sArgentina's World Cup hopes took a massive hit on Thursday after a shocking 0-0 draw against Peru in the presence of capacity crowd on home soil in Buenos Aires.
Alexis Sanchez's late victor for Chile, coupled with Paraguay snatching an injury-time victor in Barranquilla, means the Albiceleste are now sixth in the table, outside the qualification places, and need other results to favor them in the final round of fixtures if they are to qualify automatically.
Argentina can make significant progress toward qualifying for the World Cup - and potentially even secure their place - when they host Peru on Thursday in a CONMEBOL qualifier, Soccernet reports.
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Argentina's fortunes largely rest on how other teams above them in the table perform next week. The fifth-place team can advance by winning an intercontinental playoff against Oceania champion New Zealand. Thirty-two goals in 80 games mark him as the Incas' all-time top scorer, a title he claimed from Cubillas in the 2016 Copa America, and with five strikes so far in this qualifying campaign, he is tied with the impressive Edison Flores as his nation's best marksman.
So accustomed to relentless success with Barcelona over the years, Lionel Messi has been made to suffer on the worldwide stage with Argentina.
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The Albiceleste have two games left to play in the South American qualifiers and need to finish in the top four to qualify for next year's tournament.
As things stand, Brazil, Ururguay, Chile and Colombia occupy the automatic qualification positions, while the draw for Peru leaves them on course for a play-off.
Despite a formidable arsenal of attackers led by Lionel Messi, the Argentinians have scored just 16 goals in 16 games, the second lowest total behind already-eliminated Bolivia.
Elsewhere, Uruguay failed to break down a stubborn Venezuela in a 0-0 draw that edged them closer to qualification. So in place of suspended playmaker Christian Cueva, coach Ricardo Gareca selected Sergio Pena, a cultured midfielder, but one who had been handed defensive instructions.
In Barranquilla, Colombia threw away what looked to be a certain victory that would have put them within touching distance of qualification as they crashed to a 2-1 defeat to Paraguay.
"I'd prefer to play World Cup Finals than deciders like the one against Peru", Argentina's general manager Jorge Burruchaga, who played in a World Cup qualifier against Peru in 1995, told FIFA.com.
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