Argentina Under-20s took a huge step towards the semi-finals at the COTIF tournament in L’Alcúdia on Tuesday evening with a routine 2-0 win over Murcia.
Head coach Lionel Scaloni made few changes to the side that defeated Venezuela on Sunday and his decision to start San Lorenzo striker Adolfo Gaich was vindicated with two goals by the powerful centre-forward.
Alvaro Barreal struck the post early on but the pacy Vélez forward, who impressed in the tournament opener, played a key role in Argentina’s victory.
Barreal escaped down the right in the 23rd minute and his cross into the six-yard box was met by the head of Gaich to open the scoring.
Soon after the lead was doubled and once more Barreal and Gaich did the damage. Gonzalo Maroni split the Murcia defence with a superb pass from deep, the pace of Barreal ran clear and the Vélez youngster had the presence of mind to square for Gaich to tap in the second.
From there the game was virtually won and as Scaloni took advantage of the ample substitution allowance, Argentina lost any fluency they once had.
Murcia saw Samuel Hernández sent off for a second yellow card late on and Scaloni was sent from the dugout but aside from a stunning one-handed save by Jerónimo Pourtau to keep Argentina’s two-goal lead intact, there was little of note in the second half.
Mauritania are up next on Friday before closing the group stage against India on Sunday. Argentina are top of the group as it stands and so well placed for the semi finals next week.
Argentina: Jerónimo Pourtau; Facundo Mura (Francisco Álvarez), Leonardo Balerdi (Fausto Vera), Gastón Avila (Federico Gattoni), Elías Pereyra; Andrés Ayala (Matías Rosales), Gonzalo Maroni (Matías Palacios), Agustín Almendra (Rodrigo Pasquini), Alvaro Barreal (Alan Marinelli); Adolfo Gaich (Nazareno Colombo), Facundo Colidio (Francesco Lo Celso)