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Peru, meanwhile, now occupy fourth - above Argentina by virtue of goals scored - in what has been a weird group stage that only Brazil have managed to qualify from so far.

Peru are hosting fourth-placed Colombia and should they draw, Argentina would be eliminated if they did not win. The nation that finishes fifth enter into a two-legged play-off against New Zealand in November.

It seems a very unreal prospect that perennial contenders Argentina will not be at Russian Federation 2018.

Argentina have it all to do in their final match, against Ecuador.

Paraguay can still qualify for the World Cup, but need to beat Venezuela at home on Tuesday and rely on other results going their way.

"I see them being very capable of winning a World Cup next year", he said.

"The team never gave up and gave their all". They went five home games without a win in the two previous qualifying cycles combined and, in that span, lost just once at home, falling 3-1 to Brazil on September 5, 2009.

Seconds after the break, Messi's right foot let him down as the Barcelona star shockingly hit the outside of the post after quickly pouncing on a spilled save with the entire goal to shoot at.

As the chances of that have diminished over the past year, remarkably it's now at a point when possibly the greatest player of all-time will not even be in Russian Federation. Argentina couldn't take advantage of those chances, however.

Argentina's final quailifier comes next Wednesday, a tough fixture away to Ecuador.

Brazil, who have already secured their place in Russian Federation, were held to a 0-0 draw by Bolivia in La Paz, while Colombia missed out on securing a World Cup spot after losing 2-1 at home to Paraguay. After that, it's too close to call, with four teams chasing the two automatic spots.

The second-placed Uruguayans needed only a win in Tachira, but couldn't find a breakthrough against a resolute Venezuela side at the Estadio Pueblo Nuevo.

Uruguay have all but secured their place in Russian Federation.

Messi was golden in the match, but Argentina could not penetrate Peru, as the match ended in a stalemate.

Striker Eduardo Vargas drilled in a low shot on 22 minutes to put the 2015 & 2016 Copa America champions 1-0 up, but Alex Ibarra equalised in the 82nd minute for Ecuador to silence the home crowd.

Brazil have been on fire and they top the group with 38 points, having secured qualification some six months ago.