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New-look Argentina beat Guatemala 3-0 without Lionel Messi

Thirteen of the 27-man squad were uncapped going into the game

Sport360 staff 2018/09/08

Argentina‘s new-look side played with “great intensity” in their convincing 3-0 win over Guatemala, interim head coach Lionel Scaloni said.

La Albiceleste took on the Central American side in a friendly in Los Angeles, their first outing since a 4-3 defeat to France in the last 16 of this summer’s World Cup.

The Argentina national team’s Twitter page used the hashtag #NewChallenge to refer to the game and it was a very different line-up to the one which played in Russia with Lionel Messi among those not making the trip Stateside.

Thirteen of the 27-man squad were uncapped going into the game, while only four had appeared more than 10 times.

Scaloni said: “They understood very well what it is to play with this shirt, and we are proud that several of these guys have been able to play for the first time with the national team.

“We did what we wanted in the first half, I’m very satisfied, we gave the match a great intensity.

“I think we fulfilled the objective, especially in the first half, I hope these guys are the future of the national team.”

Debutant Gonzalo Martinez got the opener from the penalty spot after 27 minutes after Giovani Lo Celso’s shot struck the elbow of Elias Enoc Vasquez, and the lead was doubled eight minutes later when Guatemala failed to properly clear a corner and a Lo Celso shot from outside the area whistled past Paulo Motta.

Exequiel Palacios fed Giovanni Simeone the ball in the box for Argentina’s third just before half-time.

Simeone, son of former Atletico Madrid player and now manager Diego, said: “I’m very happy. I have great team-mates who give everything to win.”

Guatemala were playing their first international match since 2016 after being suspended by FIFA.

The gulf between the two sides – one ranked 11th in the world and the other 146th – was clear in the opening period, with Guatemala unable to contain the pace and tactical advantage of their opposition.

The second half was a quieter affair with Argentina taking the foot off the gas with the result beyond doubt.

Scaloni gave runouts to debutants Alan Franco and Walter Kannemann as the two-time World Cup winners started a new era with a win.

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Argentina Diego Simeone Giovani Lo Celso Giovanni Simeone Gonzalo Martinez Lionel Scaloni