Football: Argentina suffer scare in Bolivia draw

Argentina suffered a scare before coming from behind to secure a 1-1 draw with Bolivia in their 2014 World Cup qualifying match here Tuesday.

Argentina had been thrashed 6-1 by Bolivia when the sides last met in the thin air of La Paz in qualifiers for the 2010 World Cup.

Another upset looked on the cards on Tuesday when Bolivia striker Marcel Martins headed the home side into a 25th-minute lead.

But Argentina -- who had impressed in a 3-0 win over Venezuela in Buenos Aires last Friday -- grabbed a share of the points when Valencia's Ever Banega headed in the equaliser shortly before half-time.

Argentina might even have taken all three points but captain Lionel Messi squandered a golden chance when one-on-one with Bolivia keeper Sergio Galarza six minutes from time.

The draw left Argentina five points clear of second placed Colombia at the top of the South American zone qualifiers. Bolivia remain second from bottom of the nine-nation standings.

Colombia, who will have one game in hand over the Argentinians following their match against Venezuela later Tuesday, can close to within two points if they secure victory in Caracas.

Bolivia, thrashed 5-0 by Colombia in their last outing on Friday, looked far more comfortable in the rarefied air of the Bolivian capital.

Xavier Azkargorta's side pressed Argentina relentlessly from the kick-off and were unlucky not to take the lead after only 10 minutes when only a superb save from Sergio Romero denied the home team's Diego Bejaranao.

Argentina's best efforts came on the counter-attack, but Inter Milan's Rodrigo Palacio wasted a clear chance on 19 minutes when played in by Angel Di Maria, starting in place of the suspended Gonzalo Higuain.

Bolivia continued to carve out openings and Carlos Saucedo should have doen better in the 20th minute when he steered a free header over the bar.

Edward Zenteno then tested Romero with a thumping long range effort that the Sampdoria keeper punched behind.

Moments later however Bolivia got the goal their energetic early play had been threatening.

A superb cross from the right flank by Alejandro Chumacero picked out Martins and the 25-year-old wrong-footed Romero with a header back across goal to make it 1-0.

The goal stung Argentina into life but Di Maria squandered a good chance on 35 minutes when his header from a Palacio cross drifted aimlessly wide.

It looked as if Bolivia would preserve their lead at the break but moments before half-time Argentina grabbed an equaliser.

Boca Juniors fullback Clemente Rodriguez found space down the left and chipped a cross into a crowded area for Banega to head home.

Argentina steadied themselves in the second half and hung on for a share of the points.

Other South American qualifiers on Tuesday see Ecuador face Paraguay in Quito while Chile take on Uruguay in Santiago.