Messi-less Argentina defeats Mexico 2-0

EFE

Argentina defeated Mexico 2-0 in a friendly in this central city despite playing without FC Barcelona superstar Lionel Messi.

Friday night's victory was the Albiceleste's third in five matches since the 2018 World Cup , while El Tri stumbled to their fourth loss in five contests since their participation in soccer's showcase event in Russia.

The match at Mario Alberto Kempes Stadium began with an intense battle for the control of midfield, with Paulo Dybala leading the charge for Argentina and Alan Pullido the key figure for the visitors.

El Tri's defenders and goalkeeper Guillermo Ochoa were initially up to the task, stymieing several of Argentina's potential scoring opportunities.

But the hosts finally broke down Mexico's defensive wall in the 44th minute when Ramiro Funes Mori headed a free kick by Dybala into the back of the net.

Both teams made several substitutions after the end of the intermission and continued to bring in players off the bench as time ticked away.

Mexico had two chances early in the second half to tie the score, the best of which was a shot by Raul Jimenez that forced goalkeeper Agustin Marchesin to come up with a remarkable save.

After denying those opportunities, Argentina scored a second goal when one of Mexico's second-half substitutes, defender Isaac Brizuela, put the ball in his own net while attempting to clear a cross by Renzo Saravia in the 83rd minute.

Argentina managed two goals despite playing without Messi and Manchester City star striker Sergio Aguero, both of whom have taken a hiatus from national-team duty since the squad's elimination by eventual-champion France in the round of 16 of the World Cup.

These same two teams will meet again in a second friendly on Tuesday night at Malvinas Argentinas Stadium in the western Argentine city of Mendoza.

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