Ever Banega and Manuel Lanzini struck late in the game to hand Argentina a 2-0 win over Italy on Friday night.
Argentina’s preparations for the summer’s FIFA World Cup 2018 in Russia were off to a bright start, as they defeated Italy 2-0 at the Eithad Stadium in England.
With Lionel Messi and Sergio Aguero both missing from action for the La Albiceleste, they had to rely on two second-half goals from attacking midfielders Ever Banega and Manuel Lanzini in the 75th minute and the 85th minute respectively, to come out on top against the Azzurri, who were playing their first match under caretaker manager Luigi Di Biagio.
Here’s how we rated the performances of players from both teams on Friday;
Willy Caballero: 7/10
Had a very quiet first-half with Italy rarely threatening. Was called into action on a number of times after the break though and was alert to the situations and made sure he walked away with a clean sheet.
Fabricio Bustos: 7/10
The 21-year old had a fairly solid game at right-back. Got up and down the flank and showed plenty of positive intent.
Federico Fazio: 7/10
Going up against Serie A top scorer Ciro Immobile, the AS Roma man managed to deal with the Italian forward quite comfortably.
Nicolas Otamendi: 7/10
Had an attempt at goal early in the game. Looked to play out from the back. Conceded a few unnecessary fouls, but overall an assured display at his club’s home ground.
Nicolas Tagliafico: 6.5/10
The 25-year old left-back, making just his second appearance for Argentina, had a very good game. Was given a few issues by Federico Chiesa but dealt with them well. Always on the prowl to get forward and had a shot saved.
Leandro Paredes: 6/10
Came close to opening the scoring in the first period. Careless moment in possession saw Italy almost punish them with a goal. Steady otherwise.
Lucas Biglia: 6/10
The Juventus midfielder went about his business in the middle of the park without much of a fuss. Solid if not spectacular.
Manuel Lanzini: 7/10
Headed over the bar early in the second period. Did not miss his opportunity the second time around though, burying home in the 85th minute to put the game to bed.
Giovanni Lo Celso: 8/10
The PSG midfielder was the lynchpin for Argentina against Italy. Most of the good things that they created went through him. Was involved in a lovely one-two with Banega, leading to the opener.
Angel Di Maria: 8/10
Was a nuisance down the left-flank with his movement and pace. Had a couple of efforts saved from Gianluigi Buffon and created a number of chances for his teammates.
Gonzalo Higuain: 6/10
Apart from a saved effort on the verge of half-time, the Argentine striker wasn’t involved much. But did get the assist for his side’s second goal.
Ever Banega (Substitute, 64min) – 8/10
Replaced Paredes and proved to be an impact substitution. Added more dynamism to the attack and broke the deadlock with a fine strike.
Gianluigi Buffon: 7.5/10
Returning from his retirement, the 40-year old legend showed he is still the boss between the sticks. May have conceded two, but if not for his scintillating saves, Italy would have shipped in many more.
Alessandro Florenzi: 5/10
The right-back was given a torrid time throughout by the effervescent Di Maria, before he was subbed off on the hour mark.
Leonardo Bonucci: 6/10
Managed to deal with former Juventus teammate Higuain quite comfortably but will not be pleased with the two late goals conceded.
Daniele Rugani: 6/10
Rugani too had a fairly decent outing for large parts of the game until the late goals. Blasted a shot high and wide from distance in the closing stages.
Mattia De Sciglio: 5.5/10
A quiet night out for the Juventus man as he was never really allowed to get forward from his post at left-back.
Marco Parolo: 5.5/10
Did little of note during his time on the field. Tried to stem his opponents’ attacks but wasn’t always successful. Subbed off after 60 mins.
Marco Verratti: 7/10
Battled hard in the middle of the park. Went into challenges strongly, tried to start attacks from deep areas. Taken off for Bryan Cristante in the 72nd minute.
The Napoli midfielder tried his best to drive his team forward from the midfield. Set up a good chance for substitute Antonio Candreva and had a shot saved by Caballero soon after.
Federico Chiesa: 6/10
Making his international debut, the youngster showed glimpses of what he can do with some nifty movement on the right-flank. Seemed to pick up an injury in the second period and was taken off for Candreva.
Ciro Immobile: 5.5/10
A lot was riding on Immobile given his form at club level. Worked hard at the top, but could test Caballero only once throughout the match.
Lorenzo Insigne: 5.5/10
Should have given Italy the lead in the second half, but hit his effort wide. Had another shot saved by Caballero. Lively but ineffective.