Argentina’s unconvincing Copa America campaign continued after they were fortunate to emerge with a 0-0 draw against Colombia on Wednesday.
Expectations on the host nation were only amplified after Argentina’s 1-1 draw with Bolivia in the opening match of the tournament.
And under the glare of the lights at Santa Fe’s Estadio Brigadier General Estanislao Lopez, Sergio Batista’s side stumbled once more.
A handful of early efforts on goal could not hide the ineffectiveness of Batista’s tactics, with Colombia – one of just two nations to have recorded a victory so far in the draw-filled tournament – soon getting on top of their opponents in the first half.
Gustavo Ramos went agonisingly close to putting Colombia in front in the 19th minute when he somehow managed to shin Dayro Moreno’s cross over the bar when a scoring looked easier.
Moreno spurned his own clear-cut chance six minutes later.
Ramos seized on an unforgivable back pass from Argentina defender Gabriel Milito, and was crudely brought down in the area by Nicolas Burdisso.
Brazilian referee Salvio Fagundes waved advantage when the ball fell to Moreno with open goal at his mercy, but the Club Tijuana forward somehow managed to send his shot into the side netting.
Porto forward Falcao tested Argentina goalkeeper Sergio Romero before the half was out but the shot-stopper’s side was to improve after the break, particularly when Sergio Aguero and Fernando Gago were introduced at the expense of Ezequiel Lavezzi and Esteban Cambiasso.
Carlos Tevez’s shot on 62 minutes was deflected for a goal kick as Argentina looked to capitalise on a period of increased possession, but they went close to conceding again when left-back Pablo Armero’s angled drive bounced agonisingly wide of Romero’s left-hand upright.
Falcao and Gago traded efforts but the game finished 0-0, ensuring Colombia retain a two-point lead over Argentina atop the Group A table.
The pressure will only increase on winless Argentina and Batista, with the hosts to tackle Costa Rica on Monday.