Martinez winner takes Argentina run to 25 unbeaten

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MONTEVIDEO
Argentina took their unbeaten run to 25 matches and moved a step closer to qualifying for the World Cup with a hard-fought 1-0 win over Peru on Thursday.
Lautaro Martinez scored the only goal of the game two minutes before the break with a powerful header while Yoshimar Yotun missed a second half penalty for Peru.
On his first start for his country, Raphinha scored a brace as Brazil all but mathematically booked their place at the World Cup with a 4-1 thrashing of Uruguay.
Neymar and Gabriel Barbosa scored the other goals while Luis Suarez notched Uruguay’s consolation.
Brazil top the single South American qualifying group by six points from Argentina, who have a nine point gap to those that could deny them a berth at Qatar 2022.
Argentina last lost in the 2019 Copa America semi-finals — 2-0 against Brazil.
Since then the South American giants have been unstoppable, beating Brazil twice on their run, including earlier this year in the 2021 Copa America final.
In the early stages in windy Buenos Aires, Peru looked capable of causing an upset, but striker Gianluca Lapadula prodded their bets chance straight into Argentina goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez’s midriff.
Argentina center-back Cristian Romero thought he had put the hosts in front when headed in a Rodrigo De Paul free-kick, only to be flagged offside. Peru’s approach was industrious and crude, with Lionel Messi subjected to several rash challenges.
Argentina took the lead two minutes before half-time as Lautaro Martinez sent a bullet header from Nahuel Molina’s cross straight over goalkeeper Pedro Gallese’s head.
Peru were given a lifeline 20 minutes into the second half after bringing on the pacey Jefferson Farfan, who almost immediately broke clear of the Argentina defense before Emiliano Martinez brought him down in the box.
But Yotun’s wild penalty clipped the top of the bar to give Martinez a huge let-off.
Argentina had the ball in the net for a third time two minutes from the end but Guido Rodriguez’s header was ruled out for a push on Marcos Lopez.