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No Messi, no problem as Argentina beat Iraq 4-0


Riyadh (AFP) – Argentina shrugged off the absence of Lionel Messi as a second-string team eased past Iraq 4-0 in an international friendly in Riyadh on Thursday.

Interim coach Lionel Scaloni used the match to blood a host of new talent with goalkeeper Sergio Romero, defender Ramiro Funes Mori and striker Paulo Dybala the only experienced players in the line-up.

Inter Milan’s Lautaro Martinez opened the scoring in the 18th minute with a near-post header from a left wing cross by Marcos Acuna.

Roberto Pereyra grabbed the second in the 53rd minute when the Watford player finished off a smart one-two with Dybala.

Fiorentina defender German Pezzella headed the third goal from a corner past over-worked Iraq goalkeeper Jalal Hassan with Franco Cervi breaking through the defence for the fourth goal in stoppage time.

Argentina will face traditional rivals Brazil, also in Saudi Arabia next Tuesday.

Brazil, meanwhile, face the Saudis on Friday.

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