Argentina signed off the year 2020 with a victory. Like their arch-rivals, Brazil, they were the visitors against Peru. The Peruvians are not as competent as their heavyweight neighbours, but one can remember, how they posed a threat against Brazil and almost stunned them.

The experience against Paraguay was not chummy for Lionel Messi and his men and they had no intention to taste the same in Lima. Again, Argentina have not won in Peru since 204.

Peru started better – they had better control over possession and confidence while passing, but against the run of play, it was Argentina, who took the lead early in the first half.  Nicolas Gonzalez controlled Giovani Lo Celso’s ball with a brilliant first touch and beat Pedro Gallese with a driven left-foot effort.

11 minutes later, Lautaro Martinez doubled the visitors’ lead in the 28th minute after Leandro Paredes set him up with a great through-ball. Martinez saw Gallese coming off his line and made him commit early with a dummy, then rolled the ball into the empty net from a tight angle.

Peru’s resurgence in the final minutes of the first half was inspiring, but their lack of intent had already cost them a couple of clear goal-scoring chances. After the break, Peru just failed to push that final ball into the box. They did come close from two free-kicks but that Midas touch was missing.

Argentina maintained their solidity at the back in the second-half and Peru found it tough in the final third. The game was becoming monotonous until Messi danced past every Peruvian defender and found himself one-on-one with Gallese, but his effort was deflected behind for a corner.

And that was the only exciting moment in the second half.

Argentina broke the jinx and end the year with a win.

Giovanni Lo Celso was the performer of the night. He was handed a start in the game after impressing against Paraguay and rewarded Scaloni for his faith by grabbing a wonderful assist for Nicolas Gonzalez in the 17th minute. The Tottenham Hotspur man displayed his quick feet, vision, composure, and passing tonight, which would go a long way in helping him secure a guaranteed spot in the starting XI.

Lionel Messi has not been at his attacking best in the qualifiers so far and has only a goal which came from the penalty spot to his name – but that cannot deny his impact on this team, which still, relies heavily on him. These days, Messi pulls the string from the midfield and helping the team in the build-up.

Argentina need this from the 33-year-old superstar.