Aguero unlocks stubborn Russia
A late goal from Sergio Aguero unlocked a stubborn Russian defence as Argentina showed their intent ahead of next year's World Cup with a 1-0 win over the tournament hosts here Saturday.
The goal by the Manchester City forward set the South Americans on their way to a well-deserved win at Moscow's renovated 81,000-capacity Luzhniki stadium which will host next year's final.
Argentina, orchestrated by Lionel Messi, seized the initiative early on but their first meaningful chance came in the 21st minute when Angel Di Maria received Messi's pass in the area but Russian 'keeper Igor Akinfeev parried his low shot for a corner.
Three minutes later Aguero forced Akinfeev into a diving save to deny his attempt from just outside the box.
Akinfeev was the hero of the first half as he produced another impressive save after Aguero's powerful shot from just nine yards out.
After the interval Argentina continued to dominate posession and kept Russia's defence under constant pressure but failed to find the net before the 86th minute.
Aguero broke the deadlock when he headed in a rebound from his own blocked shot after a sharp break down the right wing and low cross from Cristian Pavon.
Saturday's encounter was only the second meeting between the teams in the post-Soviet era, after a 3-2 Argentina win in 2009.
The Russians have played just three competitive matches since being dumped out of Euro 2016 in the group phase, when they also failed to make the knockout stage at June's Confederations Cup on home soil.
Russia are unbeaten in their last five friendlies -- scoring 12 goals in the process.
Russia follow the Argentina game by taking on Spain on Tuesday in Saint Petersburg, before welcoming Brazil to Moscow in March.