Argentina under-17s maintained their unbeaten World Cup campaign on Sunday afternoon with a 3-1 win over Tajikstan and with it booked a place in the last 16.
Pablo Aimar made a host of changes for the final Group E game with progression as one of the best-placed third sides already confirmed even in defeat to Tajikstan but with a point to prove Argentina secured victory that meant only goal difference ultimately separated La Albiceleste and group winners Spain.
Dominant in possession without creating many clear chances against a Tajikstan side still harbouring hopes of qualification, Argentina took the lead after 38 minutes when Independiente winger Alan Velasco swung a perfect cross from the right that Franco Orozco headed in at the back post.
Unable to find the second goal to make life more comfortable, Aimar introduced forward Matías Godoy and five minutes later the Atlético de Rafaela youngster skipped his way to the byline and cut the ball back for Orozco to tap in his second.
Tajikstan were handed a lifeline immediately when a deflected pass released Amadoni Kamalov in behind and goalkeeper Rocco Ríos Novo brought him down allowing Rustam Soirov to score from the spot.
But it didn’t spark a late comeback and instead Argentina wrapped up the win in style. Matías Palacios, another of Aimar’s late substitutes, produced an outrageous, pirouetting backheel pass and Godoy held off a challenge before firing into the bottom corner.
As group winners Spain know that they will face Senegal in the last 16 on Wednesday while Argentina wait to see who wins Group F later on Sunday – either Spain or Paraguay will be next for Aimar’s boys on Thursday.