Two times champions and 2014 runners-up Argentina were in serious danger of failing to reach the 2018 World Cup finals after being held to a 0-0 draw by Peru on Thursday.
Lionel Messi’s side is on 25 points in 6th place in the 10-team South American group, with only the top 4 groups qualifying automatically for Russia.
The 5th-placed side, presently Peru, qualify for a playoff towards Oceania champions New Zealand.
Argentina visit Ecuador at high altitude in Quito in the final round of matches on Tuesday while Peru, who’re hoping to go to the finals for the first time in 36 years, host Colombia in Lima.
Brazil has already qualified for Russia on 38 points, even as Uruguay (28) want just a draw from their final match towards Bolivia to advance. Chile is third with Colombia fourth, both on 26 points.
Argentina has struggled for goals in a poor qualifying campaign wherein they were under 3 coaches.
However, it was not for want of trying, with Messi hitting the post, that they ended up with a 3rd successive draw in qualifiers under Jorge Sampaoli.
Argentina had the lion’s share of possession and chances although excellent ones have been scarce.
Messi had a shot from a corner taken by Angel Di Maria deflected wide via goalkeeper Pedro Gallese early in the first half and later skimmed the outside of the post with a kick from the edge of the box.
In between, Peru may have taken the lead, however, Jefferson Farfan put the ball outdoor the close to post from a low cross from the left.
Argentina must have gone ahead in first-half stoppage time while Messi lifted a looping cross into the box but striker Dario Benedetto aimed the ball over the bar.
Right from the restart, Argentina should have scored from two suitable chances.
Messi hit the post after choosing up a rebound off Gallese and the goalkeeper soon after leapt to save a long-range attempt by Lucas Biglia.
Gallese also saved at point-blank range from Papu Gomez and replacement Emiliano Rigoni was also wide after a run by Messi.
Boca Juniors midfielder Gago got here on for Ever Banega after an hour but returned less than 10 mins before twisting his knee and having to be replaced by using Enzo Perez in Sampaoli’s ultimate possible change.
Peru striker Paolo Guerrero nearly snatched a goal at the death with a free kick that Sergio Romero disquieted his bar.