With only a point to show from the two opening Sudamericano games, Argentina under-20s were on the brink of another embarrassing early exit at a major tournament and while that could still happen, Gonzalo Maroni’s stupendous strike secured a victory over Uruguay that leaves La Albiceleste needing a point against Peru on Saturday to qualify.
Tuesday’s defeat to Ecuador had left Fernando Batista’s hurriedly assembled squad in trouble and in desperate need of a result against Uruguay. So with that in mind, the recently appointed coach rang the changes – playmaker Gonzalo Maroni, Borussia Dortmund’s new €16 million defender Leonardo Balerdi along with Aaron Barquett, Fausto Vera, Aníbal Moreno and Adolfo Gaich all came in.
Uruguay themselves were still in need of a win and the result was a scrappy opening 45 minutes fuelled by tension that produced more fouls than any real quality.
Midway through the second half that tedium was abruptly broken with a moment of utter brilliance. Maroni, harshly left out of the squad initially only to be included after injury to Ezequiel Barco, collected the ball out on the left, exchanged quick passes with substitute Pedro de la Vega before bending an unstoppable shot past Renzo Rodríguez from 25 yards.
That proved just enough but did require a superb close range stop by Manuel Roffo in the closing minutes to preserve the lead.
Argentina need a point against Peru on Saturday to guarantee a place in the final stage and with Batista yet to find his preferred eleven there is a sense that the longer the Albiceleste can remain in the tournament, the more they could improve.
— Selección Argentina 🇦🇷 (@Argentina) January 25, 2019