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Sampaoli laments missed chance for Argentina as he praises Messi

Jorge Sampaoli said Argentina let a big opportunity slip against Venezuela in their faltering bid for World Cup qualification, though he did praise star Lionel Messi.

It was another frustrating outing for Sampaoli and Argentina, who were held to a 1-1 draw by lowly Venezuela in CONMEBOL action on Tuesday.

A dominant display in Buenos Aires only yielded a point as Rolf Feltscher's own goal cancelled out Jhon Murillo's opener and rescued a draw for Argentina.

Back-to-back stalemates during the international break have left Argentina barely in fifth position – the play-off spot – with Chile and Paraguay lurking ominously and Sampaoli knows his side must start making the most of their opportunities as he searches for his first competitive victory since replacing Edgardo Bauza in June.

"We let a big chance pass but this is football and you know that these things can happen and especially when you have chances at goal and you do not take them," Sampaoli said.

"I hope that this discomfort that the team lives will not confuse us or block us for the future.

"Now we have to go out and play Peru [in October] in the same way as against Venezuela to be closer to qualifying.

"We are more complicated because we thought we would be in a better position after the two matchdays. But we are going with two points in the two games in which we had superiority but we could not capitalise."

Sampaoli, who confirmed Angel Di Maria suffered a muscle injury, added: "Messi was above the rest. He took charge of the game in several moments."

Argentina's CONMEBOL campaign concludes next month with fixtures against fourth-placed Peru and Ecuador.