- End of 2nd Half
- 2nd Half
- Lo CelsoPavón76'
- Di MaríaPerotti64'
Italy - Argentina
International friendlies - 23 March 2018
International friendlies – Follow the Football match between Italy and Argentina live with Eurosport. The match starts at 20:45 on 23 March 2018. Our live coverage lets you follow all the key moments as they happen.
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There is no stoppage time as Martin Atkinson blows time on this contest.
It's a productive night for Argentina who, without Lionel Messi, record a comfortable 2-0 victory over Italy as Luigi Di Biago's first game in charge ends in defeat.
And Andrea Belotti replaced Jorginho for Italy a couple of minutes ago.
- OffFabricio BustosArgentina
- OnGabriel MercadoArgentina
A late Argentina change: Gabriel Mercado replaces Bustos.
- GoalManuel LanziniArgentina
GOAL! Argentina 2-0 Italy (Lanzini)
Italy are caught on the counter-attack and Lanzini makes them pay. Argentina burst forward in numbers, it's a three vs two situation, Higuain unselfishly passes to Lanzini who wrong-foots a defender, before bending the ball into the top corner from the top of the box, leaving Buffon helpless.
Again Buffon is to Italy's rescue! The magical goalkeeper uses his legs to deny Perotti's angled drive.
It certainly hasn't been a vintage Argentina performance but they have created more than enough chances to warrant the victory.
As for Italy, well it's another frustrating performance. They will hope to bounce back when they meet England at Wembley on Tuesday night. Di Biago tried a new formation but his side simply haven't created enough opportunities.
Argentina are now more than happy to keep hold of possession. It has been a productive night for Jorge Sampaoli’s side, and the manager will have learnt a lot about his players.
- OffGiovani Lo CelsoArgentina
- OnCristian PavónArgentina
Lo Celso's reward for providing the assist? He is replaced by Cristian Pavon.
- GoalÉver BanegaArgentina
GOAAAALLLL! Argentina 1-0 Italy (Banega)
Finally, the breakthrough!
Jorginho concedes possession in midfield, Banega plays a neat one-two with Lo Celsa before drilling a low shot into the bottom corner.
Argentina win a corner, which they play short. They work the ball to Perotti who fires a half-volley at goal from the top of the box, but can't quite work the goalkeeper.
Verratti appears to be struggling with a thigh injury and is replaced by Bryan Cristante.
Insigne times his run to perfection to latch onto a ball over the top, but his shot is well saved by Caballero.
Jorginho tries to find the net with a curled shot from the top of the box but the Argentina goalkeeper had gathered himself to make a comfortable stop.
The changes seem to have halted the game's momentum, just as we were being treated to some much-needed excitement.
A double change in personnel for Argentina now: Banega and Perotti are on, with Paredes and Di Maria coming off.
- OffFederico ChiesaItaly
- OnAntonio CandrevaItaly
Here comes the substitutions...
Pellegrini, Candreva and Zappacosta are on, Parolo, Chiesa and Florenzi are off.
Verrati clips a pass over the top, picking out Immobile! But on his weaker left foot, he can't quite engineer the ball past Caballero.
Excellent wing play from the debutant Chiesa. He drills a lovely ball across the face of goal but Caballero sticks out his hand and takes it from the feet of Insigne.
Buffon makes his fifth save of the evening, and he won't make an easier one this evening as he gets down at his leisure to gather Di Maria's shot from distance.
You can hear chants of 'Messi' from the supporters. Some clearly don't realise he can't play tonight.
Just a reminder: there isn't a limit on the amount of substitutes each team can make this evening, as obviously it is a friendly match-up.
The camera focuses on Insigne, who still appears baffled that he somehow spurned that earlier opportunity for Italy.
It's been a game of missed chances thus far, with a combination of horrendous efforts and the brilliance of Buffon to blame.
No Messi, no Aguero: no party. Well, not yet anyway.
Di Maria delivers a fine cross to the unmarked Lanzini but he heads over from a matter of yards.
Dear me, Insigne.
Paredes' back-pass is shocking as he gifts possession straight to Immobile. He sneaks a pass through to Insigne, who only has the goalkeeper to beat. Somehow, though, he curls the ball wide of the goal.
- 2nd Half
And we are underway in the second period.
And that is that for the first half, folks.
It's all been rather mundane, but the brilliance of Buffon has been heart warming. Please never retire, Gigi.
Wow. Di Maria's beautiful weighted-pass releases Higuain who has time to glance at Buffon before trying to poke the ball underneath the Italian goalkeeper. But the veteran somehow keeps it out with a one-handed stop.
Tagliafico is found in space on the left-side of the penalty area and he releases a venomous low effort which Buffon does well to push wide at his near post.
It's almost as if neither side want to win the game. There is no rhythm to the match, both defences are lying deep and neither team are taking any risks.
Five minutes to half time and yet the game hasn't sparked into life. Let's hope for better, much better, after the break.
Paredes is no stranger to a long-distant effort and he accepts Italy's invitation to shoot when he is left in space from 30 yards. He really catches a hold of the ball but his in-swinger curls just wide, perhaps clipping the post before it goes out of play.
A rare sight as Bonucci makes a mistake in defence but it goes unpunished. He was caught in possession just outside the Italian penalty area, but Di Maria was caught offside when he receives the pass.
Here he comes again: Di Maria works his way to the by-line before fizzing a cross into the six-yard box... but there's no one there.
Di Maria is doing his utmost best to provide some excitement, to provide that spark. He displays immense close control to skip away from a couple of challenges before teeing up Celso for a shot, but his effort is charged down.
I'll be honest: there isn't much happening.
Buffon, as composed as ever, is alert to collect Di Maria's deep cross, beating Higuain to the ball.
The Juventus forward looks rather frustrated. He has been starved of service so far.
Verrati is caught in possession by Higuain in his own half and is mightily relieved when the referee Martin Atkinson signals for an Italy free-kick.
Florenzi is finding plenty of space on the right side of the Argentina defence and he curls in a dangerous cross but Fazio clears with a diving header.
Caballero, making his return to the Etihad, is alert to scoop up De Sciglio's through-pass which was aimed for Immobile.
The Argentina goalkeeper hasn't had much to do just yet.
Argentina break in numbers and Higuain tries to release Celso with a reverse pass but Insigne, of all players, is back to make the interception.
Florenzi hasn't looked entirely convincing so far. The full-back has all of the time in the world to play a simple pass to Chiesa on the overlap but overcooks the pass.
Verrati controls a switched pass with ease before feeding Insigne at the top of the box. However, he is found to be in an offside position.
He's still got it, you know.
Buffon gets down quickly to push away Otamendi's powerful low headed effort.
Italy have enjoyed the lion's share of possession in the opening 15 minutes. They're pressing their opponents high up the pitch and Argentina aren't enjoying much freedom at the moment.
Jorginho skips away from his marker in midfield and tries to switch the play, hoping to find Chiesa on the right channel. However, he overcooks the pass and Argentina have a throw-in.
Verratti has been rather quiet in Italy's midfield thus far but he's finally on the ball just now... only to be caught by Biglia's late challenge.
Di Maria is a joy to watch. His quick feet are frightening. A change of pace leaves Chiesa for dead on the channel but his cross to the near post is hacked away by the Italian defence.
Insigne, rather optimistically, tries to curl it into the top corner but the free-kick has too much zip on it and the ball flies harmlessly over the crossbar.
Lanzini concedes a rather needless foul and now the Argentina rearguard has a free-kick to defend.
Wayne Rooney hasn't bothered travelling to Amsterdam to follow England; the former Manchester United captain is right here, taking in the action at the Etihad.
Di Maria drills a low cross into the six-yard box, hoping Higuain can make the connection but Buffon is off his line quickly to smother the ball.
It's not unusual for friendly matches to begin at pedestrian-pace and that's the pattern the opening few minutes has followed.
- 1st Half
And we're off!
A moment's silence will be observed for Fiorentina captain Davide Astori as well as Argentina legend Rene Houseman.
The players are making their way out onto the pitch now at the Etihad, meaning kick-off is fast approaching.
Many of those packed into the stadium undoubtedly just to see Messi in action... and you thought your Friday was bad.
Never mind, there are plenty of quality players on show this evening and plenty of sub-plots to discuss.
How do you feel tonight's game is going to go? I would love to hear from you.
Imagine a World Cup without Italy. It hasn't happened since 1958, but the Azzuri won't feature in Russia this summer. Quite unbelievable really.
Gian Piero Ventura left as manager shortly after the defeat to Sweden and now interim boss Gigi Di Biagio has two friendly games to prove he should be installed as the permanent head coach.
So, will he kick off his reign with a victory against an Argentina side missing Messi?
Gianluigi Buffon, who was supposed to be retiring, is in nets for Italy, while Marco Verratti plays against his PSG team-mates Angel Di Maria and Lo Celso.
Federico Chiesa, a 20-year-old winger with Fiorentina, makes his debut in attack, alongside Lorenzo Insigne and Ciro Immobile.
It's a real shame Mario Balottelli's impressive form for Nice hasn't been recognised by Di Biago, while Giorgio Chiellini has been ruled out through injury.
I'm afraid I have bad news. Lionel Messi is UNAVAILABLE this evening - apparently he is struggling with a sore adductor muscle. Or if you are an Italy fan, then it is the best news you could have hoped for.
And there is no Sergio Aguero either. The Manchester City talisman has a knee problem. Paulo Dybala and Mauro Icardi? No, both players have been left at home.
So Messi is replaced in the starting XI by Giovani Lo Celso. Argentina are going with a 4-2-3-1 formation.
Willy Caballero wins his first cap at the age of 36.
Argentina: Caballero, Bustos, Otamendi, Fazio, Tagliafico, Paredes, Biglia, Lanzini, Lo Celso, Di Maria, Higuain.
Italy: Buffon; Florenzi, Bonucci, Rugani, De Sciglio; Parolo, Verratti, Jorginho; Chiesa, Immobile, Insigne.
Good evening and welcome to Eurosport's LIVE text commentary of the international friendly between Argentina and Italy, played at the Etihad Stadium, Manchester.
Jorge Sampaoli's side scraped into the World Cup draw thanks to the magic of Lionel Messi, while Azzuri's dreams were dashed with a play-off defeat to Sweden.
Sampoali's side are now one of the favourites to go all the way in Russia, but they must improve and tonight provides them with an opportunity to heap more misery on Italy, who have appointed Luigi Di Biago on a temporary basis.