Argentina’s hopes of qualifying for next year’s World Cup were left hanging in the balance on Tuesday after a listless 1-1 home draw with Venezuela.
Needing a victory to move into the CONMEBOL group’s direct qualification places, the Albiceleste went behind when John Murillo coolly lifted a 50th minute shot over goalkeeper Sergio Romero after a counterattack.
The goal sparked the hosts into action and four minutes later they equalized when Venezuela’s Rolf Feltscher turned Marcos Acuna’s cross into his own net.
Five-time Ballon d’Or winner Lionel Messi was unable to assert his usual influence and often drifted deep to help his team’s faltering midfield.
The result left Argentina fifth in the 10-team South American zone standings, with 24 points from 16 matches.
The two-time World Cup winners must win their last two qualifiers against Peru and Ecuador to at least secure a playoff berth.