It may not have been the victory that Argentina desired from their World Cup opener but there were plenty of positives for manager Pablo Aimar to take away from the goalless draw with Spain on Monday afternoon.
As South American champions there is a weight of expectation on Argentina and they could scarcely have been given a greater test to begin the campaign than against Spain.
However, despite a sense that the development of European football has seen South American nations fall behind, there was no sign of any inferiority and in fact it was Argentina who shaded things at the Estadio Kleber Andrade in Vitoria.
A bright start almost saw the Albiceleste take a sensational early lead. San Lorenzo playmaker Matías Palacios, with a host of European scouts watching keenly in the stands, came within inches of scoring what would have been the goal of the tournament, spotting goalkeeper Iván Martínez off his line and shooting from inside his own half only to be denied by the woodwork.
Soon after Exequiel Zeballos fired wide and the Boca forward moments later burst down the left only for his low centre to be agonisingly out of reach for Matías Godoy to turn in.
Having been the better side Argentina’s hard work was almost undone on the stroke of half time when the referee awarded Spain a penalty for Cristian Medina’s hand inadvertently touching the face of José David Menargues. The decision itself looked harsh but an offside in the build-up picked up by VAR saved Argentina.
The second half didn’t produce quite so much action and the two sides appeared to tire late on but both sides will remain confident of qualification.
Tajikstan beat Cameroon in the other Group E game and it is the Africans that Argentina play on Thursday looking to pick up three points.