Argentina scored twice in the first eight minutes but could not withstand Colombia’s second-half pressure as the hosts rallied for a 2-2 draw in a thrilling World Cup qualifier on Tuesday.
Argentina manager Lionel Scaloni made five variations from the team that drew 1-1 with Chile last week and his side got the best possible start when Cristian Romero, playing in just his second international, headed home from a free kick inside three minutes.
Leandro Paredes made it 2-0 five minutes later when he dribbled through a pack of Colombian defenders and slipped the ball past the keeper.
Argentina controlled the first half but their dominance waned just before half-time after their goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez was taken off the field on a stretcher with a possible head injury following a goalmouth clash.
Argentina struggled to contain Colombia’s Juan Cuadrado as the hosts started to create more chances, with Luis Muriel and Duvan Zapata both missing opportunities.
But they did get on the board five minutes into the second half after Argentine defender Nicolas Otamendi used an arm to flatten Mateus Uribe and Muriel converted the penalty.
Argentina too had chances but found Colombia goalkeeper David Ospina in inspired form, twice making great saves to thwart Lionel Messi.
“I think we had the chances,” said Argentine midfielder Rodrigo De Paul. “They have a great goalkeeper. We’re not happy with a draw.”
Just when it looked like Argentina would hold on, substitute Miguel Borja grabbed a deserved equalizer when his header squirmed under the body of replacement goalkeeper Agustin Marchesin deep into stoppage time.
“Unfortunately, we leave with one point when we deserved all three,” said Scaloni.
The result leaves Argentina in second place behind Brazil in the 10-team South American qualifying group. The top four teams qualify automatically for Qatar 2022 and the fifth-placed side go into an intercontinental playoff.