It was far from the convincing performance that Julio Olarticoechea would have wanted but Argentina earned a crucial three points against Algeria in Group D to keep their hopes of qualification to the knockout stages alive.
Second half goals from Ángel Correa and Jonathan Calleri were just enough to see off their North African rivals after Víctor Cuesta’s sending off moments before half time had left the outcome in the balance.
Olarticoechea made positive changes to the side that suffered defeat to Portugal with Giovani Lo Celso and Cristian Pavón named in the starting eleven but despite what looked like a more balanced line-up, Argentina still struggled in front of goal.
Aside from a curling Ángel Correa shot, La Albiceleste failed to stretch Algerian goalkeeper Farid Chaâl and in fact the best chance of the first half fell to Baghdad Bounedjah.
However, the match really tilted in favour of Algeria a minute before the break when Argentina captain Víctor Cuesta was shown a second yellow card for a fairly innocuous coming together with Bounedjah.
Argentina made no changes at the break despite their numerical disadvantage and were rewarded for their positivity when a long kick down field by Gerónimo Rulli was flicked on by Jonathan Calleri and Ángel Correa dashed onto the loose ball to fire it into the bottom corner.
The lead didn’t last long though after the impressive Santiago Ascacibar gave away the ball in midfield and allowed a pass to be poked into the path of Sofiane Bendebka, who slotted past Rulli with ease.
On the brink of an early exit, Argentina needed a response and they almost got one immediately, only for Calleri to badly miscue from close range.
Ayoub Abdellaoui then made it ten aside after being shown a second yellow card for a high boot and straight away Argentina were back in front.
Correa’s clever flick released Calleri and although Chaâl smothered the ball at the West Ham striker’s feet, it bobbled off his knee and into the net.
The final stages were wide open and Argentina spurned chances to ensure victory but they held on for all three points.
There is still work to do if Olarticoechea’s side are to reach the next round and given Honduras’ superior goal difference, La Albiceleste will have to win on Wednesday afternoon to progress.
Argentina 2 – 1 Algeria