Argentina under-23s enjoyed a hugely positive international break following up last week’s 5-0 win over Bolivia with a 3-1 win over Colombia in La Paternal on Sunday afternoon.
As Diego Maradona hogged the limelight down in La Plata it was in the stadium that bears the Argentina legend’s name where Fernando Batista’s promising group continued their preparation towards the pre-Olympic tournament in January.
Despite going behind to Colombia midway through the first half, goals from Nicolás González, Matías Vargas and Julián Carranza gave the Albiceleste a more than deserved victory and provided further reasons for optimism.
Batista made a number of changes to the side that thrashed Bolivia and with the formidable central defensive pairing of captain Lisandro Martínez and Cristian Romero paired with a midfield base of Santiago Ascacibar and Nicolás Capaldo, it was La Albiceleste that looked to impose themselves on the game.
Nicolás González should have given Argentina an early lead nodding wide from close range after Matías Vargas had crossed from the left but despite the early promise it was Colombia that led.
Joaquín Blázquez flapped at a corner and left stranded in the penalty area, Juan Camilo Mesa was able to volley into an unguarded net at the back post.
The response was excellent and soon after González made amends for his earlier miss to get on the end of Lucas Robertone’s inswinging free-kick. The VfB Stuttgart forward celebrating a goal back in front of his old Argentinos Juniors supporters and soon after playing a key part in how Argentina took the lead. Driving in off the right, the 21-year-old found Vargas and the Espanyol winger’s goal-bound curler was blocked by the arm of Andrés Reyes. Vargas stepped up and slotted past Esteban Ruíz from the penalty spot and with that Argentina went into the break in front.
From that point Argentina rarely looked in trouble and should have extended their lead earlier. The tricky Carlos Valenzuela replaced Vargas just after the hour mark and almost conjured up a third down the right but it was Julián Carranza who eventually wrapped it up eight minutes from time.
Santiago Colombatto slipped a delightful little pass into the path of Carranza and the Inter Miami striker rifled the ball low inside the far post.
Batista will continue to use the international breaks to gain further practise before the pre-Olympic tournament and with the prospect of potentially adding Adolfo Gaich and Ezequiel Barco to the group, Argentina’s under-23s look to be in a good place.
Argentina: Joaquín Blázquez; Facundo Mura (87′ Marcelo Herrera), Cristian Romero, Lisandro Martínez, Francisco Ortega; Santiago Ascacibar (76′ Fausto Vera), Nicolás Capaldo (63′ Santiago Colombatto); Lucas Robertone (87′ Julián Alvarez), Nicolás González, Matías Vargas (63′ Carlos Valenzuela); Ezequiel Ponce (76′ Julián Carranza)
Colombia: Esteban Ruíz; Wíller Ditta, Andrés Reyes, Kevin Balanta, Gabriel Fuentes; Ever Valencia, Eduard Atuesta, Juan Mesa, Gabriel Fuentes; Mateo Casierra, Jorge Carrascal