With Lionel Messi as a spectator on the bench, world champion Argentina beat a weak Bolivia 3-0 on Tuesday in La Paz, which was out of tune at home for the second round of the South American qualifier for the 2026 World Cup.
The 36-year-old star arrived in La Paz and unleashed a fury among hundreds of Bolivian fans, something that upset several local players. He had scored a goal from a free kick in Buenos Aires in the 1-0 victory against Ecuador on the first date, but he asked for his substitution at the end which set off alarms. Apparently he was ruled out so as not to risk him physically due to the busyness of games accumulated since his arrival at Inter Miami of the United States MLS.
Enzo Fernández at 31, Nicolás Tagliafico with a header at 42 and Nicolás González at 83 scored for an Argentina that exercised clear superiority in La Paz. Ángel Di María and Rodrigo De Paul were the drivers of the victory.
Bolivia played outnumbered from the 39th minute due to the expulsion of its left back Roberto Fernández, for a foul on Cristian Romero.
Argentine coach Lionel Scaloni achieved his second consecutive victory in the qualifying rounds against Bolivia, playing at an altitude of 3.640 meters in La Paz.
Fernández opened the scoring after a good collective play in which Álvarez and Di María participated in the creation. Tagliafico scored his first goal for the national team by shouldering an indirect free kick taken by Di María.
On the other hand, Bolivia suffered the game and was left without arguments. To make matters worse, Fernández's expulsion further weakened his team and he attacked very little.
In the complement, Argentina did not retreat and cornered Bolivia. González scored the third after a defensive mess by the locals.
Argentina arrived optimistic in La Paz after its victory against Ecuador in Buenos Aires last week.
In the next double date, Argentina will host Paraguay on October 12 and, five days later, will visit Peru. Colivia will be home against Ecuador and then will go to Paraguay.