The final friendly before the World Cup is never a particularly tasking game but it would have been difficult for Argentina under-17s to find an easier opponent than New Zealand as Pablo Aimar’s side strolled to an 8-1 win in Caseros.
The Oceania representatives begin their campaign in Brazil against Angola next Saturday though Argentina will go into their opener against Spain two days later in far more confident mood.
The gulf in class was apparent from kick-off and while Argentina were able to stroke the ball around at ease, New Zealand simply couldn’t cope with the high-press implemented by Aimar. Pegged back in their own half, the opening goal came after eight minutes when goalkeeper Alex Paulson’s attempted clearance was charged down and the ball eventually squared to Boca winger Exequiel Zeballos to score.
The second quickly followed and Paulson was again at fault, Matías Palacios whipping in a low free-kick from wide on the left and it squirming underneath the goalkeeper.
Two became three after a series of corners increased the pressure and with New Zealand unable to clear Francisco Flores smartly back-heeled the ball into the net from close range.
It looked as though it could get very ugly for the visitors but there was a spring of hope when striker Oskar Van Hattum caught Rocco Rios Novo out of position to finish from 40 yards out on the right.
That goal only provided a temporary reprieve as minutes later Zeballos was felled darting between two defenders in the box and Ignacio Fernández stepped up to convert the penalty.
Argentina ended the half firmly in control and only a couple of flying saves from Paulson denied an even greater margin at the break.
With the foot off the gas after half time, New Zealand held their hosts for a while until once more Argentina won possession high up the pitch and Zeballos burst past a defender and rifled the ball low into the net.
Substitute Juan Pablo Krilanovich came off the bench to powerfully head in number six and another of the players introduced during the second half wrapped up the rout. Independiente talent Alan Velasco tapped in a simply seventh before volleying in a fine eighth late on, pushing his claim for a starting role in Aimar’s team.
Spain, a week on Monday, will provide a far sterner test but as South American champions Argentina should travel to Brazil full of belief.
¡Despedida a lo grande! El combinado argentino Sub17 que dirige Pablo Aimar goleó 8-1 a su par de Nueva Zelanda. ¡Ahora irá en busca de su gran sueño: el Mundial de Brasil! pic.twitter.com/ognzyoiGud
— SportsCenter (@SC_ESPN) October 19, 2019