Lautaro Martinez’s header two minutes before halftime won the game in Buenos Aires on Thursday, extending Argentina’s unbeaten streak to 25 games in all competitions.
However, with 25 minutes remaining, Yoshimar Yotun’s penalty cannoned off the crossbar, denying Peru a chance to salvage a point.
Messi reacted to Argentina remaining unbeaten in 11 CONMEBOL matches on the road to Qatar 2022, though it is unclear what he was referring to when he mentioned the referee after goal-scorer Martinez went down inside the area in the first half.
Messi took to his Instagram account to review Argentina’s game and seemed to allude to the referee’s bias:
“Difficult match, difficult to play. A lot of wind, they were playing deep, leaving little space for us. The referee always does this when he referees us as if he does it on purpose. But well, three important points and we’re close to our objective.”
Martinez’s 17th international goal puts him two goals ahead of Lionel Messi as Argentina’s all-time leading scorer under Lionel Scaloni. The 24-year-old said: “The play against Uruguay was more fluid, there was more space. It got complicated for us a little but we always tried to have a solution and today, we knew how to find that.
“Every time we go out on the pitch, we try to give our all because this shirt deserves respect and responsibility. All of this is exciting, my family saw me play again after a long time. Today, they’re here again. I hope that the people have enjoyed the win.”
After Alfio Basile, head coach Scaloni became Argentina’s second coach in their history to go 25 games undefeated in all competitions. After the game, he said: “Today we felt a bit tired. Playing a triple date in South America is wearisome. We took it forward and got the three points, which is what we wanted.
“It was a very important game and there was tension for that. I do not think that Argentina was satisfied with the result. Peru plays well, it is a very difficult opponent. Beyond the penalty play, I think the game was controlled.”
The three points for the hosts move them onto 25 points, eight ahead of third-placed Ecuador but still six behind leaders Brazil. They travel to Uruguay next as they look to seal their place in Qatar in 2022.
Meanwhile, the visitors dropped to ninth in the group with their chances of making it to the World Cup looking even slimmer. They will host Bolivia next as they look to turn things around.