Four-goal Argentina too strong for Iraq in Saudi friendly


RIYADH — Argentina easily overcame Iraq 4-0 in a friendly in the quartet friendly Super Classico match at the Prince Faisal Bin Fahd Stadium here on Thursday with three players scoring their first international goals for the twice world champions while German Pezzella also found the net.

The clinical display by the Argentines saw them while responding to the new coach and caretaker manager’s Lionel Scaloni plan with gusto. Saudi Arabia and Brazil are the other two teams who are playing friendly matches.

Argentina were without Lionel Messi, who is taking a sabbatical from international football, and fielded a new-look side that included one player making his debut and two others their first ever starts.

The new boys were rarely troubled by an Iraq side that defended in numbers, but showed little threat in their opponent's half.

Inter Milan striker Lautaro Martinez, playing only his second game for the national side, put Argentina ahead after 15 minutes with a superb header from a Marcos Acuna cross.

Roberto Pereyra doubled their lead eight minutes into the second half when he took a pass on the edge of the box and swept a right-foot shot home after the Iraq defense opened up in front of him.

Defender Pezzella grabbed a third eight minutes from fulltime when he headed home after a flick on at a corner and Franco Cervi added a fourth in injury time after a surging run from midfield.

"It wasn't easy opening them up but we managed it and we were patient and managed to score more goals," Pezzella said.

The win took Argentina's unbeaten run under interim coach Scaloni to three games. Since taking over from Jorge Sampaoli after Argentina's poor performance at the World Cup in Russia, the South Americans have beaten Guatemala and Iraq and drawn with Colombia, without conceding a goal.

Argentina's next game is on Tuesday against arch rivals Brazil in Jeddah.

In a game where Iraq offered little by way of attacking threat, Argentina's defense still managed to create its own anxious moments and the central defensive partnership of Pezzella and Ramiro Funes Mori failed to impress.

The match is very crucial for Iraqi team especially when the players are making preparations for the Asian Nations Cup, which will be held in the United Arab Emirates in January. — Reuters