It was supposed to be a significant test for Lionel Scaloni’s young side but a sensational display from Lautaro Martínez punished a woeful Mexico performance to hand Argentina an impressive 4-0 win.
A blistering first half display completely blew away a Mexican side that simply could not contain Martínez, who along with the burgeoning midfield of Leandro Paredes, Rodrigo de Paul and Exequiel Palacios, have given Argentina reasons for optimism at last.
Mexico arrived in San Antonio unbeaten in eleven games and high off the back of a 3-0 win over the USA so former Argentina coach Gerardo Martino selecting his strongest eleven looked like a tough ask for a somewhat makeshift Argentina side.
However it took quarter of an hour for Martínez to bring El Tri back down to earth. Palacios feeding the Inter Milan striker who still had two defenders to escape from before rifling a left-footed shot past Guillermo Ochoa.
And it got even better for Argentina, Palacios again the provider, the Mexican defence again so porous and Martínez once more with the unerring finish inside the far post.
A penalty on the half hour mark for handball against Carlos Salcedo could have gifted Martínez his hat-trick even earlier and although Leandro Paredes instead converted from the spot, the 22-year-old hitman didn’t have to wait long.
Robbing the ball from Nestor Araujo five minutes later, Martínez completed his treble and withdrawn at half time for Paulo Dybala, Argentina’s most exciting young player had finished his job.
A second half of constant substitutions saw Argentina continue to dominated but not extend their lead and it wasn’t until stoppage time that Mexico even mustered a shot on goal.
“I’m delighted and emotional. One has to make a lot of sacrifices to get here and it’s not every day that you score three goals wearing this shirt,” Martínez said at full time.
Argentina must not get carried away with a friendly win over a poor Mexico but Martínez has the potential to be an elite centre forward and now has a dynamic, young midfield for support. That long term issue appears to be nearing a solution but the defence remains a work in progress and greater tests are required before World Cup qualification.