Argentina 2 Italy 0: Banega & Lanzini win it for Messi-less Albiceleste
Ever Banega and Manuel Lanzini ensured Lionel Messi's absence was not keenly felt as they hit the target in Argentina's 2-0 friendly win over Italy.
Messi, who has been struggling with a muscle problem, was not included and reduced to the role of spectator as Argentina dominated much of the encounter at the Etihad Stadium.
Italy's returning goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon, who reversed his decision to retire from international football following the Azzurri's failure to qualify for the World Cup, was kept busy throughout as he won his 176th cap.
Yet Luigi Di Biagio's men, who paid tribute to late former Fiorentina captain and Italy international Davide Astori by emerging wearing number 13 shirts bearing his name, could have taken the lead themselves if not for a glaring miss by Lorenzo Insigne.
And his profligacy was punished in the 75th minute as Banega played a neat one-two with Giovani Lo Celso and fired beyond a stranded Buffon.
Italy could not muster a response and Lanzini put the game beyond doubt five minutes from time. Di Biagio - part of a three-man shortlist to take over as permanent Italy boss - will hope for a better audition against England on Tuesday, when Argentina face Spain as they continue to build towards the World Cup.