Argentina boss Lionel Scaloni said he was pleased with his side’s 4-0 victory over Iraq in Riyadh as he looks to build for the future.
The South Americans, without star man Lionel Messi who has been rested for the two-match tour in Saudi Arabia where they will also face arch-rival Brazil, easily saw off Iraq on Thursday, thanks to goals from Lautaro Martinez, Roberto Pereyra, German Pezzella and Franco Cervi.
The clashes come just months after La Albiceleste had a World Cup to forget. They limped out of the group stage only to exit at the second-round stage at the hands of the eventual champions, France.
The side’s time in the Kingdom is very much about moving on from the World Cup woe and blooding younger players.
Inter Milan forward Martinez struck his first goal for his country to give Argentina the lead in the 18th minute at the Prince Faisal bin Fahd Stadium. From that point on there was only one winner as the South Americans showed their class in the Saudi Arabian capital.
Pereyra added the second goal in the 53rd — the Watford star’s made his first international appearance for three years — before Pezzella and Cervi struck.
Pezzella grabbed a third eight minutes from full-time when he headed home after a flick on at a corner and Cervi added a fourth in injury time after a surging run from midfield.
The friendly marked the return of goalkeeper Sergio Romero, who was forced out of the World Cup with a knee injury.
Scaloni said the focus of the two matches — they face Brazil at the King Abdullah Sports City stadium in Jeddah on Tuesday. — was on blooding younger players.
“I stressed our will to win the match, to attack non-stop and to keep scoring goals,” he said after 4-0 thrashing.
“It was a good test, we are happy with it.”
Regarding the clash against Brazil Scaloni joked: “We will park the bus, defend. “Actually we want to play well, fight for it, no doubt.”
Regarding the Iraq win Pezzella admitted: "It wasn't easy opening them up but we managed it and we were patient and managed to score more goals.”
The win took Argentina's unbeaten run under interim coach Scaloni to three games. Since taking over from Jorge Sampaoli after Argentina's poor performance in Russia, the South Americans have beaten Guatemala and Iraq and drawn with Colombia, without conceding a goal.