It was not the performance that Claudio Ubeda would have been hoping for but thanks to Lautaro Martínez’s superb 90th minute strike, Argentina under-20s avoided opening day defeat to Peru in the South American Championships.
Despite fielding a talented starting eleven, Los Pibes struggled to find any momentum on the uneven surface in Ibarra and were stunned when Peru took a shock lead after eleven minutes. Roberto Siucho’s speculative long range effort didn’t look as though it would trouble the Argentina goal but a wicked deflection of Juan Foyth left Ramiro Macagno wrong footed and the ball nestled in the bottom corner.
For all their possession, Argentina failed to create any meaningful openings and had it not been for a smart save from Macagno the score might have been worse at the break.
The second half saw an improvement as Peru dropped deeper to protect their lead but when Ezequiel Barco, Brian Mansilla, Lautaro Martínez and Pedro Ojeda all saw chances wasted it looked as though Argentina were heading for an embarrassing defeat.
Matters were made worse when Belgrano defender Cristian Romero was shown a second yellow card for a rash challenge but with a minute remaining, the ten men found a way through. Mansilla burst forward and found Racing teammate Martínez, who cut onto his right foot and curled a delightful finish inside the far post.
Argentina will know that significant improvements are needed but there is little time to dwell on that with a vital match against Uruguay on Saturday.
Argentina 1 – 1 Peru
Uruguay were not much better and despite playing against ten men for much of the second half were unable to find a way past a resolute Venezuelan defence. Nicolás De La Cruz wasted the best opportunity when his panenka penalty was read and saved by Wuilker Fariñez Aray.