Scaloni warns against complacency as Argentina extend unbeaten run ahead of Brazil blockbuster

By Sports Desk September 03, 2021

Argentina head coach Lionel Scaloni urged his team not to "rest on our laurels" after the in-form Copa America champions set up a mouth-watering top-of-the-table World Cup qualifying showdown with rivals Brazil.

Lautaro Martinez, Joaquin Correa and Angel Correa were on target as Argentina extended their unbeaten streak to 21 matches by downing 10-man Venezuela 3-1 in CONMEBOL qualifying on Thursday.

After first-half substitute Luis Martinez was sent off for a horrifying challenge on Lionel Messi in the 32nd minute, Argentina – playing for the first time since July's drought-ending Copa triumph over Brazil, their first title in 28 years – took control of proceedings.

Argentina are second and unbeaten through seven qualifiers on the road to Qatar 2022, six points behind Brazil, while they have not tasted defeat since November 2019.

As Argentina turn their attention to Sunday's blockbuster in Sao Paulo, where Brazil will put their perfect record on the line, Scaloni told reporters post-game: "It's special for the players to have the patch of champions on their chest, they fought so hard to win the Copa America.

"The important thing is to not rest on our laurels."

The complexion of the match changed when Luis Martinez – who replaced Jose Velazquez earlier in the half – saw red.

Messi went to ground after receiving a high foot to the shin and the challenge, initially a yellow card, was upgraded to red after the referee consulted the pitch-side monitor following a VAR review.

Lautaro Martinez then opened the scoring in the second minute of first-half stoppage time, the Inter star scoring his third goal in qualifying after being played through by Giovani Lo Celso.

Joaquin Correa and Angel Correa struck within three minutes – the 71st and 74th minute – to put the result beyond doubt, though Yeferson Soteldo's last-gasp spot-kick gave the home crowd something to celebrate.

Looking ahead to the Copa America final rematch with Brazil, Scaloni added: "We will have time to analyse how the players are. It will be a different game and everyone is available.

"We have things to improve, surely, but I'm not going to say them. We always have to improve, when you win or lose. We will try to do our best."

Lautaro Martinez added: "The three points are very important. Venezuela is a very complicated opponent. In South America, they're all difficult but we had a great first half.

"We created chances and after the goal we were able to work with more peace of mind. We brought home three important points. I think we had a great first half today, beyond the fact that they were down a man.

"For a striker, it's important to score but the most important thing is that the Argentina national team win. You always have to think about the group."

Related items

  • Durant: Nobody hoping Irving will come to save us after Nets lose amid pro-Kyrie protests Durant: Nobody hoping Irving will come to save us after Nets lose amid pro-Kyrie protests

    Kevin Durant said nobody is hoping Kyrie Irving will return to "save us" after the Brooklyn Nets were beaten by the Charlotte Hornets amid protests in support of the absent NBA All-Star.

    Irving is yet to play this season due to his refusal to be vaccinated against coronavirus, which is preventing him from practicing or playing with the Nets – New York has a mandate in place that states players must have had a COVID-19 jab.

    Demonstrators gathered outside Barclays Center prior to Sunday's 111-95 defeat at home to the Hornets, showing their support of Irving.

    After the Nets dropped to 1-2 for the season, Durant was asked about team-mate Irving and him being away from the championship-chasing franchise.

    "It's three games in. Of course, we've got enough," Durant told reporters post-game after posting 38 points.

    "We definitely want Kyrie Irving out here on the floor and he's a huge part of what we do, but it's not happening right now. So we've got to figure it out.

    "But nobody's going to lose confidence while we're playing and hope Kyrie comes and saves us during the game. No, you've got to play."

    James Harden was far from his best against the Hornets, going just six-of-16 shooting from the field for 15 points in 33 minutes, while he also tallied eight turnovers.

    The former MVP endured an injury-hit first season with the Nets following his blockbuster trade from the Houston Rockets.

    "I'm just getting my confidence back," Harden said. "I'm a little hesitant. You guys can see it. Just making sure my confidence continues to build, and that's all that matters.

    "We're at game three and hopefully my confidence -- not hopefully -- but my confidence will rise and will continue to get better as games go on, and I feel more confident and get that burst of speed like I'm normally used to. No worries at all."

    Harden has also found himself drawing fewer fouls this season after the NBA introduced a rule change, aimed specifically at players who make "abnormal movements" to get to the free-throw line.

    He only went to the line once against the Hornets, having averaged 4.0 attempts heading into the contest – his lowest average since the 2010-11 season (4.2).

    "I feel like he's unfairly become the poster boy of not calling these fouls," Nets head coach Steve Nash said. "Some of them are definitely fouls still."

    Nash added: "I think he’s got to stick with it. But they're just so alert and aware, and he's the poster child of these new decisions.  I get it, there's a line, but some of them are still fouls.

    "So, he's just got to stick with it, he’s got to keep going to the basket, and he's got to do what he does because a large portion of them are still fouls, and if he doesn't get fouls, he can still make plays.

    "He can still finish them, and pass and do all the things that he does. So he's just got to continue as he finds his rhythm again after very little basketball for half a year. Keep attacking, keep attacking, and they're gonna respect his skill level and his ability to get guys on his shoulder and get to the basket."

  • Brady hits milestone in Bucs rout as Stafford's Rams survive Lions scare Brady hits milestone in Bucs rout as Stafford's Rams survive Lions scare

    Tom Brady made history once again as Super Bowl champions the Tampa Bay Buccaneers rolled past the Chicago Bears 38-3 in NFL action Sunday. 

    With a nine-yard strike to Mike Evans in the closing seconds of the first quarter, Brady became the first NFL quarterback to throw 600 touchdown passes.

    The 44-year-old – 20-of-36 passing for 211 yards – would finish the game with 602 for his career, all four of his TD tosses going for fewer than 10 yards and three of them landing in Evans' hands. 

    Blaine Gabbert took over at quarterback for Brady midway through the fourth quarter with the game well in hand as the Buccaneers improved to 6-1. 

    Brady's opposite number, Bears rookie QB Justin Fields, had a brutal day as he was sacked four times and threw three interceptions as Chicago failed to find the end zone. 

    Stafford, Rams survive Lions scare

    The matchup between Super Bowl contenders the Los Angeles Rams and the winless Detroit Lions finished with the expected result, but the Rams' 28-19 win was much closer than anticipated. 

    The Rams (6-1) trailed 19-17 entering the fourth quarter and needed a five-yard touchdown pass from Matthew Stafford to Cooper Kupp early in the period to take the lead and a 47-yard Matt Gay field goal with just over a minute to play to seal the win. 

    Stafford completed 28 of 41 passes for 334 yards and three TDs against the team he played for in the first 12 years of his career, while former Rams QB Jared Goff threw a pair of costly interceptions for the Lions (0-7).

    Kupp became the first player in the Super Bowl era to have 800-plus receiving yards and nine-plus receiving touchdowns in his team's first seven games of a season.

    While the Lions remained the only winless team in the league after Week 7, the Arizona Cardinals (7-0) maintained their status as the lone team with a perfect record, routing the Houston Texans 31-5 behind three TD passes by Kyler Murray. 

  • Klopp says 'last thing I want to be is in Solskjaer's shoes' after Liverpool humiliate Man Utd Klopp says 'last thing I want to be is in Solskjaer's shoes' after Liverpool humiliate Man Utd

    Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp said "the last thing I want to be is in Solskjaer's shoes" as he showed sympathy for his Manchester United counterpart following Sunday's 5-0 Premier League humbling at Old Trafford.

    Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and United endured a dark day in Manchester, where the embattled Red Devils were embarrassed as Liverpool ran riot on enemy turf.

    Mohamed Salah became the first Premier League player to score an away hat-trick against United, while Naby Keita and Diogo Jota were also on target for Liverpool – who led 4-0 at half-time before Paul Pogba came off the bench and was sent off within 15 minutes to add to the hosts' misery.

    United have only lost by a larger margin against Liverpool in October 1895 when the Reds beat them 7-1 at Anfield, while it was their largest margin of defeat in this fixture when playing at home as pressure mounts on under-fire boss Solskjaer.

    "Oh yeah, of course," Klopp told reporters when asked if he had sympathy for Solskjaer as Liverpool moved within a point of leaders Chelsea and United dropped to seventh and eight points off the pace.

    "I said it before, the last thing I want to be is in his shoes in that moment, but that's just how it is.

    "In these moments when you lose a game, when you lose a derby especially, it happened to me as well, you don't want to go out there in the mixed zone and give all the interviews and answer all these questions. So, for sure, it's not a nice night, so yes of course [I have sympathy]."

    Liverpool became only the second team in English top-flight history to win consecutive away games by a margin of five-plus goals without conceding themselves, after United in February-March 1960.

    Klopp's Liverpool have scored 19 goals in their first five away matches in the Premier League this season. In English top-flight history only two sides have scored more after five away games – Manchester City in 2011-12 (20) and United in 1907-08 (20).

    On whether the result represented one of the greatest days of his career, Klopp – a Champions League, Premier League and Bundesliga winner – added: "I didn't think about it, yet. It's a good day, a really good day and I don't want to be disrespectful. I have no idea, but it's a big one. We know that.

    "Obviously after the game I got told that never happened in the long history of Liverpool Football Club; this group always wanted to write their own little chapters for the big, big history book of this club.

    "This one was a little one tonight, a little chapter. People will talk about it in the future, 100 per cent, because it will not happen very often, if it happens again at all. We saw the game as well and we know we were lucky in two or three situations where United could have scored in the first half. I think they should have scored the first one, but that doesn't make our performance [any less], that’s just how it is.

    "In front of the goal, in the last third, we were exceptional. We were clinical, we were ruthless, our high press was outstanding, we really won balls in great areas, the formation was top and all these kind of things you want to see as a coach, worked out really great.

    "The difference is now that you usually don't score with each situation you have pretty much, but that's what we did and why we were 4-0 up at half-time.

    "Second half, early 5-0 and the red card, game over, so then just control it and try to get home healthy. I am not 100 per cent sure that worked out, well it didn't work out obviously because Millie [James Milner] is injured and Naby as well. We have to see how serious it is, it is very painful, so we will see. We will only know tomorrow or the day after tomorrow."

© 2020 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.