New-look Argentina ease past Iraq | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, October 13, 2018 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:52 AM, October 13, 2018

New-look Argentina ease past Iraq

Mbappe spares France's blushes with late cameo

Argentina easily overcame Iraq 4-0 in a friendly in Saudi Arabia on Thursday with three players scoring their first international goals for the two-time world champions.

Argentina were without Lionel Messi, who is taking a sabbatical from international football, and fielded a new-look side that included one player making his debut and two others their first ever starts.

The new boys were rarely troubled by an Iraq side that defended in numbers, but showed little threat in their opponent's half.

Inter Milan striker Lautaro Martinez, playing his second game for the national side, put Argentina ahead after 15 minutes with a superb header from a Marcos Acuna cross.

Roberto Pereyra doubled their lead eight minutes into the second half when he took a pass on the edge of the box and swept a right-foot shot home after the Iraq defence opened up in front of him.

Defender Pezzella grabbed a third eight minutes from fulltime when he headed home after a flick on at a corner and Franco Cervi added a fourth in injury time after a surging run from midfield.

"It wasn't easy opening them up but we managed it and we were patient and managed to score more goals," Pezzella said.

The win took Argentina's unbeaten run under interim coach Lionel Scaloni to three games. They next face off on Tuesday against arch rivals Brazil in Jeddah.

In Guingamp, Kylian Mbappe inspired a fightback from world champions France as they rallied from two goals down at home to earn a 2-2 draw with Iceland on Thursday.

Birkir Bjarnason swept Iceland ahead from the edge of the area on 30 minutes, and Kari Arnason's excellent second-half header doubled their lead in Guingamp.

But Mbappe, brought on as a substitute for the final half-hour, gave France a lifeline when his shot was saved and then inadvertently turned in by Iceland defender Holmar Orn Eyjolfsson.

The Paris Saint-Germain forward levelled from the penalty spot in the 90th minute after Kolbeinn Sigthorsson handled at a corner.

"The team saw we needed to do something else. I bring what I can do," Mbappe told TF1.

"We saw the fans were completely behind us even if it wasn't a big stadium. We wanted to do everything for the people who were there. We got the draw, we didn't lose, but we're still a bit annoyed."

SPAIN CRUSH WALES

At the Principality Stadium in Cardiff, Paco Alcacer made his case for a regular place in the Spain team as the on-loan Borussia Dortmund forward struck twice in his country's 4-1 rout of Wales on Thursday.

With Diego Costa injured and Rodrigo on the bench, Alcacer seized his chance to impress Spain boss Luis Enrique in his first international appearance since March 2016.

Alcacer netted twice in the first half to make it eight goals in 14 Spain appearances, while Sergio Ramos and Marc Bartra were also on target for the visitors.

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