Ecuador vs. Argentina, 2014 World Cup qualifying: Final score 1-1, entertaining stalemate in Quito

Dennis Grombkowski

Lionel Messi made a late cameo for the Albiceleste, but he couldn't help them find a winner in a 1-1 draw that should benefit both Ecuador and Argentina.

Argentina were given a gift by Alexander Dominquez just 85 seconds into the match. A bad giveaway in midfield led to a long stinging shot by Angel Di Maria, which Dominquez failed to catch or punch out of the penalty area. Instead, he parried right into the path of Rodrigo Palacio and hauled him down as he attempted to claim the rebound. The referee pointed to the spot and Sergio Aguero converted to give Argentina a 1-0 lead.

While the Albiceleste had plenty of other chances in the match, that marked the end of their dominance in the game. In the 17th minute, Ecuador found their equalizer on a set piece. Ever Banega fouled Jefferson Montero on the edge of the penalty area, setting up a dangerous free kick. Walter Ayovi served a perfect delivery into the center of the box and Segundo Castillo got up to meet it, then powered a header past Sergio Romero.

The rest of the first half was wide-open, but didn't produce any more chances close to the quality of those that produced the goals. The second half started ferociously, with Ecuador getting into the Argentina penalty area instantly, forcing a couple of saves from Romero and earning a corner in the 46th minute.

In the 54th minute, Felipe Caicedo was denied a penalty shot. He appeared to be contacted by Romero when he went down in the area, but certainly did all he could to embellish the contact and the referee neglected to call a penalty or a dive.

Needing a bit of a spark, Alejandro Sabella brought Lionel Messi off the bench in the 61st minute, replacing Sergio Aguero. Messi was kept out of the starting lineup because of his fitness, and at the high altitude in Quito, he seemed to struggle for breath early and often.

After Messi came on, things opened up considerably going both ways. Castillo had a free header from a corner in the 73rd minute, but powered his shot over. Argentina had a couple of great counters shortly afterwards, but they failed to make them count. Angel Di Maria produced a terrible shot from a one-on-one chance in the 78th minute, while Messi shot just wide from the edge of the box in the 82nd minute.

Even though the game wasn't exactly lacking for exciting events, Javier Mascherano decided to spice things up a bit more by getting himself sent off in hilarious fashion in the 88th minute. He was on the wrong end of a tough challenge and, not wanting to waste time, the referee called for the motorized cart to take him off the pitch. Someone splashed water on Mascherano, enraging him, but he decided to take his frustrations out on the driver of the cart, kicking out at him. The officials spotted it and showed him a straight red card, sending him into a wild fit. Riot police came onto the pitch to restrain him and break up the scuffle and it took nearly five minutes to restart the game.

Ecuador had a few half-chances during the long stoppage time period, but ultimately failed to find a winner. While both sides played like they needed a win throughout, they'll ultimately be satisfied with a draw.

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