Argentina lose to Bolivia hours after Messi ban


Argentina are out of the automatic qualification places for the 2018 World Cup after losing 0-2 to Bolivia hours after captain Lionel Messi was given a four-match ban.

Messi was punished for abusing an official after using “insulting words” towards an assistant referee during Thursday’s 1-0 win over Chile.

Juan Arce and Marcelo Martins scored for Bolivia, while Everton defender Ramiro Mori was taken off on a stretcher for Argentina.

Argentina are now in fifth place in the race for Russia 2018.

Messi will also miss three of Argentina’s remaining four games against Brazil, Uruguay and Venezuela later this year, though Argentina plan to appeal against the severity of his ban.

Only the top four teams in South America will qualify automatically for the World Cup in Russia next summer.

The team in fifth place will face the winners of the Oceania group in a two-legged play-off.

Colombia are now second behind Brazil who have now qualified, after they beat Ecuador 2-0 with goals from James Rodriguez and Juan Cuadrado.

“Bolivia won fair and square,” Argentina coach Edgardo Bauza said.

“We are still alive and we want to qualify for the World Cup. We know that this is going to be a battle and we are going to keep fighting.”

Funes Mori was taken off with a knee injury just four days after Everton team-mate Seamus Coleman broke his leg playing for the Republic of Ireland.

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