News ID: 200093
Published: 0219 GMT September 06, 2017

Sampaoli blames misfiring Argentina but praises Messi

Sampaoli blames misfiring Argentina but praises Messi
Lionel Messi (L) looks frustrated leaving the pitch after Argentina was held to 1-1 draw at home by Venezuela in Buenos Aires, Argentina, on September 5, 2017.

Jorge Sampaoli said Argentina let a big opportunity slip against Venezuela in its faltering bid for World Cup qualification, though he did praise star Lionel Messi.

It was another frustrating outing for Sampaoli and Argentina, which was held to a 1-1 draw by lowly Venezuela in 2018 World Cup qualifiers in South America (CONMEBOL) action on Tuesday, reported.

A dominant display in Buenos Aires only yielded a point as Rolf Feltscher's own goal canceled out Jhon Murillo's opener and rescued a draw for Argentina.

Back-to-back stalemates during the international break have left Argentina barely in fifth position – the playoff spot – with Chile and Paraguay lurking ominously, and Sampaoli knows his side must start making the most of its opportunities as he searches for his first competitive victory since replacing Edgardo Bauza in June.

"We let a big chance pass but this is football and you know that these things can happen and especially when you have chances at goal and you do not take them," Sampaoli said.

"I hope that this discomfort that the team is going through will not confuse us or block us for the future.

"Now we have to go out and play Peru [in October] in the same way as against Venezuela to be closer to qualifying.

"Things are more complicated for us because we thought we would be in a better position after the two match days. But we are going with two points in the two games in which we had superiority but we could not capitalize."

Sampaoli, who confirmed Angel Di Maria suffered a muscle injury, added, "Messi was above the rest. He took charge of the game in several moments."

Argentina's CONMEBOL campaign concludes next month with fixtures against fourth-placed Peru and Ecuador.

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