Ecuador's defender Frickson Erazo celebrates after scoring against Argentina during their Russia 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifiers match, at the Monumental stadium in Buenos Aires.
JUAN MABROMATA/AFP/Getty Images
Argentina suffered a double blow in World Cup qualifying, beaten by Ecuador and losing Sergio Aguero to injury in the first half.
A pair of goals in barely a minute stunned Argentina as Ecuador claimed a remarkable 2-0 victory in World Cup qualifying on Thursday. The match appeared to be petering out to a draw in Buenos Aires until Frickson Erazo and Felipe Caicedo struck with nine minutes remaining.
Ecuador had chances throughout in the Argentine capital but only managed to break the deadlock in the 81st minute, when center back Erazo headed past Sergio Romero. Caicedo then sealed the three points just seconds later, capping a swift counter-attacking move with a side-footed effort beyond Romero as Ecuador triumphed in Argentina for the first time in its history.
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The defeat came as a double blow to Copa America finalist Argentina – already missing captain Lionel Messi – after losing Sergio Aguero to an apparent hamstring injury in the first half. Aguero was stretchered off the field and replaced by Carlos Tevez after chasing down Gabriel Achilier in the 19th minute.
Ecuador started brightly and had a great chance to take the lead in the 10th minute. Antonio Valencia broke into space just outside the box, but his delivery across the penalty box to pick out the unmarked Jefferson Montero was overhit.
At the other end, Argentina went close but not close enough in the 17th minute. Alexander Dominguez was forced into a save by Angel Correa and the former then produced a finger-tip save to deny Aguero from close range after Angel di Maria teed up his teammate. That proved to be Aguero’s last bit of action as he was carted from the field two minutes later. Aguero clutched at his left hamstring and signaled to the bench after chasing down Achilier.
Ecuador continued to be a threat on the counter-attack in the first half, though it spurned another opportunity to hit the front approaching the half-hour mark, when Miller Bolanos fired over from the edge of the area following Valencia’s cutback.
It was more of the same after the interval, with Ecuador wasting yet another chance to break the deadlock in the 58th minute. Lucas Biglia slipped in the middle of the field and Christian Noboa pounced and found himself in space outside the box but his chipped effort sailed wide of the post.
Argentina had opportunities in quick succession from the 67th minute, though neither Javier Mascherano nor Di Maria found the back of the net. Mascherano linked up with Tevez inside the area but the outstretched Barcelona midfielder was unable to guide the pall beyond Dominguez, while Di Maria’s attempted chip was dealt with.
Argentina was then made to pay as a flick on from Segundo Castillo fell to Erazo, who stooped low to head past Romero with nine minutes remaining. And it got better for Ecuador just seconds later as Valencia sprinted into the box and passed the ball to Caicedo, who made no mistake from close range.
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