Argentina visited Venezuela fresh off the back of winning their first Copa America title since 1993 and had the confidence instilled within the team.

Moreover, they have been in brilliant form during this World Cup Qualifiers – the Albeceleste were unbeaten in their six matches so far, winning three and drawing three of those.

Venezuela endured a tough summer due to the COVID-19 outbreak in the squad just before Copa America. They sit second from bottom in the qualifying table after losing four of their opening six games and new interim boss Leonardo Gonzalez will be hoping to try and get off to a positive start today.

Venezuela have only ever won two of their 26 meetings with Argentina, with the most recent victory coming in an international friendly between the side in March 2019 when they won 3-1.

Lionel Scaloni made just three changes to the side that played in the Copa America final.

He included Pezzella, Molina and Rodriguez, with Montiel starting on the bench. Messi leads the line alongside Lautaro Martinez.

Just three players retained their places for Venezuela from their last match against Peru, with Farinez named in goal and Ferraresi and Savarino also staying in. Villanueva, Hernandez, Moreno and Castillo dropped to the bench.

From the word go, Argentina had been on the front foot.

Lionel Messi was free down the right, but as he cut inside, the defenders got tight to him and he could not dig out a shot. The ball rebounded off the defenders and fell for De Paul. He hit the shot from range, Farinez is nowhere near it, and it bounced back off the bar.

Messi was still being allowed too much space down the right.

He pulled back for De Paul this time, but he could not hit the target with his long-range shot.

Messi was brought down by Luis Martinez, but the referee played the advantage as Argentina kept hold of the ball. Rodrigo de Paul slid in Lo Celso, who drilled a low shot on goal, which Farinez pushed away. Lautaro Martinez was falling in, but he poked it just wide from very close range

Less than 10 minutes after coming onto the field in place of the injured Velazquez, Luis Martinez’s game was over! It was a very high and late challenge that he caught Messi with, and after watching the replays, the referee overturned his original decision and pulled out the red card.

That red card gave Argentina a numerical advantage and the goal came at the stroke of halftime.

Lautaro Martinez pointed to where he wanted and Lo Celso slid the ball into the right area. The forward was behind the defenders and he coolly slotted it into the bottom corner.

After the break, Argentina kept on dominating the match.

Acuna squared one to Messi, who took the shot first time but it hit Angel Di Maria just in front of the keeper and the offside flag went up.

Molina laid the ball off to Messi and he tried to play a one-two with Di Maria on the edge of the box, between a crowd of Venezuela defenders. The return pass didn’t come off though and the hosts come away with it.

It was a great play by Messi again after he was fed in by De Paul and he played another clever one-two with Di Maria on the edge of the box. This time, he did not get on the end of the return ball, but Ferraresi got back well to nick it off him before he could have a shot.

Lautaro Martinez had a chance to double his goal tally as Di Maria swung another corner into the box. He rose the highest to get on the end of it and tried to guide his header towards the goal, but he did not test Farinez as it bounced wide.

A series of one-touch passing opened up a little pocket of space for Joaquin Correa as he made a late run into the box. Lautaro Martinez touched it into him and he took a touch before firing his shot into the near bottom corner as the second goal for Argentina arrived.

Then it was time for Angel Correa to make it 3-0.

He initially pulled the ball back for Martinez, who hit the shot sweetly first time when it came to him. Farinez made a good save to deny him, keeping it out with his legs, but Angel Correa was following it in and tapped it in from close range.

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In the stoppage time, Venezuela reduced the deficit from the penalty spot, but it would not spoil a commendable victory for the Copa America Champions.

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