Argentina extended their unbeaten run to 29 matches on Tuesday when they beat a toothless Colombia 1-0 in a World Cup qualifier.
Lautaro Martinez got the only goal in an untidy game after 29 minutes when he took advantage of bad defending to rifle home from inside the penalty area.
The top four teams in the South American section qualify automatically for Qatar and the fifth-placed side goes into a playoff with a team from the Asian confederation.
The match brought together a home side that had not lost a goal in their last four home games and a Colombian team that had not scored in their last six qualifiers.
“No matter who plays nothing changes,” said winger Angel Di Maria. “We remain the same, with the same mentality.”
“We show sacrifice and humility. Today we knew we’d face a difficult game and we were able to do what we had to do and move forward.”
The home side were without Lionel Messi, who was rested after a recent bout with COVID-19, and influential midfielder Rodrigo De Paul, however Martinez and Di Maria took the responsibility and the attacking mantle.
“A lot was said about the players who were missing, that we weren’t at full strength,” goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez said. “But we demonstrated that we are not 11 but a really strong group.”