Edgardo Bauza does not believe Argentina are reliant on Lionel Messi after the captain and country’s all-time leading goalscorer downed Chile.
Messi’s first-half penalty settled Thursday’s CONMEBOL World Cup qualifier as Argentina edged South American champions Chile 1-0 in Buenos Aires.
It was the five-time Ballon d’Or winner’s 58th international goal, which helped Argentina move third in the standings – eight points adrift of leaders Brazil.
Asked about Messi’s importance to Argentina, Bauza told reporters: “I do not think the team is Messi-dependent.
“I think he played a good game. Time to work, we will improve.”
Messi’s 16th-minute spot-kick separated the two South American giants at the Estadio Antonio Vespucio Liberti.
The referee awarded a penalty after Jose Fuenzalida had brought down Angel Di Maria in the area.
Chile had a goal correctly ruled out for offside before Nicolas Otamendi missed a golden opportunity for Argentina.
Alexis Sanchez rattled the crossbar with a free-kick as Chile left empty-handed.
“I’m very happy because we won a game that came out as we imagined it,” Bauza said.
“For me, the team played a great game that contained a great team like Chile.
“We failed to recover the ball. We could not have it in the last 15 minutes. We won against a great rival.
“For me, we did not play a bad game.”
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