Player ratings: Martínez shines for Argentina while Messi rests

MIAMI GARDENS, Florida — Argentina defeated Peru 2-0 at Hard Rock Stadium on Saturday night and with the victory, The Albiceleste –which had already qualified for the quarter-finals of the Copa América– won Group A with three wins in three games without conceding a goal.

The first half began with Argentina having overwhelming possession (almost 80%) and control but without any final result. The midfield trio of Leandro Paredes, Exequiel Palacios and Giovani Lo Celso worked hard to move the ball from one side to the other, often facing the threat of Ángel Di María and Alejandro Garnacho, who had a decent debut as a starter.

Argentina pressed in the opening 45 minutes but not with enough conviction as Orlando City’s Peruvian goalkeeper Pedro Gallese ensured it was 0-0 until the break. The best attempt was a Lo Celso shot when Gallese denied the Tottenham Hotspur man from 12 yards.

Without Lionel Messi, who rested with Argentina’s advancement already assured, it will always seem like something is missing. The Albiceleste And the same thing happened on Saturday: Argentina was looking for a response to their dominance but without success.

Until the second half, when Argentina returned with more aggression and in the 47th minute, Lautaro Martínez, who seemed frustrated in the first half, scored the first goal thanks to a great assist from Di María. It was his 27th international goal for Argentina. The Albiceleste.

Paredes failed to convert a penalty awarded by Gonzalo Montiel, but the world champions kept pressing and so did Martínez, and in the 86th minute the Inter striker got his second thanks to a great chip. It was a nice reward for a great night of work.

In the end, Argentina never tried too hard and won the match and the group in perfect style.


Walter Samuel, 9 — A patient approach from assistant coach Samuel, who took the lead when coach Lionel Scaloni served a one-match ban on the sidelines. Samuel, who won 56 international caps for Argentina, remained resilient throughout the match, knowing that his team, without its best player, would eventually, slowly, implement Peru’s plans.

PLAYER RATINGS (1-10; 10: best. Players introduced after 70 minutes receive no rating)

GK Emiliano Martinez, 7 — There was very little to do in the first half. He didn’t have to stop and he got a free kick in the second, as well as a shot that was possibly dangerous. Things got more complicated at the end, but in the end he couldn’t cope and kept another clean sheet, his third of the tournament.

DF Gonzalo Montiel, 7 — Solid game, once again imposing its presence against Peru, protecting the defense and always looking to attack. The penalty that was not scored was won.

Defense Germán Pezzella, 7 –– Solid but unimpressive control of the back line alongside Nicolás Otamendi. He did not have to do much in defence and was more in charge of directing the play from the back.

DF Nicolás Otamendi, 8 — Great ball for Di Maria in the first half. Solid leadership overall from the veteran defender, ensuring there were no major problems from the opposition.

DF Nicolás Tagliafico, 7 — A solid game, with a lot of scope. He won a free kick and created several opportunities for Garnacho and others.

MF Leandro Paredes, 6 — Great control of the midfield in the first half and took a long shot that went close. He was generally strong throughout the game and only lost his cool in the final stages with a yellow card. He missed the penalty, so that influenced his grade.

MF Giovani Lo Celso, 7 — Generally decent as a connector between midfield and attack, Gallese blocked a shot in the first half and was offside in the second.

MF Exequiel Palacios, 8 –– He moved the ball easily, with a 100% passing success rate, which allowed Argentina to maintain simplicity in their movements. Much of the good work of the Argentine midfield began with him.

DEL Alejandro Garnacho, 7 — Lively in the first half, moving with energy, causing headaches for the Peruvian right-back, and even making a few interceptions. An encouraging debut for the 19-year-old.

FW Angel Di Maria, 8 — Another impressive performance from Di Maria, who created more chaos as the match progressed. It was his wonderful assist that paved the way for Martinez’s opener.

DEL Lautaro Martínez, 9 — The first half was frustrating for the striker, but he improved in the second with a good finish and a goal that gave Argentina the lead. He did not stop running or working for the team, he continued to create chances and in the end he got his double. He now has four goals in three games.


MF Enzo Fernández, 6 — He came in and did the job without affecting Peru much.

MF Nico González, 6 years old — He replaced Garnacho and was simple but effective.

MF Valentin Carboni, N/R — He entered the field replacing Di María once the match was won.

MF Guido Rodríguez, N/R — He replaced Parades, who had a yellow card.

DF Lucas Martínez Quarta, N/R — He came on as a substitute in the 83rd minute when Scaloni was looking to run out the clock.

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