Date: 23rd March 2018 at 11:09pm
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Late goals from Ever Banega and Manuel Lanzini helped an Argentina side deprived of talisman Lionel Messi edge past Italy 2-0 at Manchester City’s Etihad Stadium on Friday.

With the Barcelona forward missing through a muscle problem, it was a game that saw plenty of profligate finishing in front of goal, with veteran goalkeepers Gianluigi Buffon and Willy Caballero excelling throughout.

The Azzurri did have chances, in particular through Lorenzo Insigne, who missed a golden opportunity, but Banega hit home with 15 minutes to go, then Lanzini made sure of victory 10 minutes later.

Italy custodian Buffon produced a string of fine saves in the first half as he denied Angel di Maria, Nicolas Otamendi and Gonzalo Higuain.

After the break, Caballero was the star as he twice denied Lorenzo Insigne before thwarting Ciro Immobile from close range.

Insigne then wasted a glorious chance to open the scoring after latching onto a short Leandro Paredes backpass, however he pulled his shot wide with the goal gaping.

He was made to pay late on as substitute Banega danced through the Italy midfield before rifling in from the edge of the box left-footed.

With Italy chasing the game Argentina threatened on the counter as Buffon produced a wonderful save to deny Diego Perotti. However, the 40-year-old was helpless as Lanzini’s stunning effort flew into the top corner five minutes from the end.

Argentina face Spain in Madrid on Tuesday at Atletico Madrid’s Wanda Metropolitano, while interim Italy coach Luigi Di Biagio will now face England at Wembley Stadium as he looks to kickstart this new Azzurri era.