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Argentina's Sergio Aguero (2nd L) celebrates after scoring a goal during an international friendly football match between Russia and Argentina at the Luzhniki stadium in Moscow on November 11, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / Kirill KUDRYAVTSEV (Photo credit should read KIRILL KUDRYAVTSEV/AFP/Getty Images)

KIRILL KUDRYAVTSEV/Getty Images

Sergio Aguero‘s late strike handed Argentina a 1-0 win over Russia in their friendly match at the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow on Saturday.

La Albiceleste looked to be on course for a disappointing goalless stalemate with the 2018 World Cup hosts after missing a series of chances, but Aguero’s 86th-minute strike handed them a deserved win.

A flurry of offside calls in the opening minutes against Angel Di Maria, Konstantin Rausch—who also had to be denied by an inch-perfect tackle from Javier Mascheranoand Eduardo Salvio hinted at the intent both sides displayed early on.

There would be little more out of Russia for the remainder of the half, though, as the visitors looked to control possession and rarely gave them an opening to counter, with Enzo Perez, Matias Kranevitter and Giovani Lo Celso providing Argentina protection in midfield.

La Albiceleste were eventually able to turn the screw as the half wore on. Di Maria had a low effort saved by Igor Akinfeev after Lionel Messi picked him out in the box, and minutes later the ‘keeper denied Sergio Aguero after a surging run.

Akinfeev would do the same in the final minutes of the half when Nicolas Otamendi crossed to his Manchester City team-mate, but the stopper was equal to Aguero’s superb volley, per Argentina’s official Twitter account:

Argentinian football expert Roy Nemer gave his take at half-time:

The visitors’ dominance continued after the break, and it required a timely intervention from Rausch to clear Messi’s chip off the line after the forward managed to lob Akinfeev from a tight angle:

Russia were able to show some signs of life as Denis Glushakov fired a pair of efforts on Sergio Romero’s goal, with the latter forcing him into action for the first time in the match.

Normal service was quickly resumed, though Argentina’s wastefulness in front of goal continued to disappoint as Salvio fired over and Di Maria also missed the target.

A raft of substitutions disrupted the game in the latter stages, but Aguero was nevertheless able to fire his side in front in the final minutes of normal time:

Jorge Sampaoli’s side created chances and came up against an excellent goalkeeping performance from Akinfeev on Saturday, but their struggles to find the net despite all their efforts is a concern ahead of the World Cup.

They’ll have another opportunity to work on the issue on Tuesday, when they take on Nigeria.

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