Los Angeles: Lautaro Martinez fired a 22-minute hat-trick as Argentina thrashed Mexico 4-0 in a friendly international in San Antonio while Brazil fell prey to a Luis Abram header against Peru in Los Angeles.
Inter Milan striker Martinez scored in the 17th, 22nd and 39th minutes at the Alamodome to give Argentina a deserved win over a lacklustre Mexico team Tuesday.
Paris Saint-Germain midfielder Leandro Paredes scored Argentina’s other goal from the penalty spot after 33 minutes as the South American giants romped into a 4-0 lead at halftime.
But it was the 22-year-old Martinez who grabbed the headlines with a clinical exhibition of finishing which took his international goals tally to nine in 13 appearances.
Martinez opened the scoring in the 17th minute, picking the ball up deep in Mexican territory before twisting and turning past several defenders and firing low past Guillermo Ochoa.
Martinez bagged his second five minutes later, with River Plate’s Exequiel Palacios punishing sloppy play in the Mexican defence to send the Inter Milan striker through on goal to finish for 2-0.
A disastrous start for Mexico got worse shortly after the half hour mark when Carlos Salcedo was adjudged to have handled in the area to concede a penalty. Paredes duly stepped up to convert to give Argentina a 3-0 lead.
Martinez completed his hat-trick six minutes from half-time, again capitalising on lackadaisical Mexican defending to dart in and shoot past Ochoa.
Argentina were without several first choice regulars, with Lionel Messi, Sergio Aguero and Angel Di Maria all missing from their two-game international tour of North America.
Abram strikes late against Brazil
Peru grabbed a slice of revenge for their loss to Brazil in the Copa America final, defeating the five-time World Cup winners 1-0 in a friendly in Los Angeles.
A headed goal from Argentina-based defender Luis Abram was enough to give Peru a hard-fought win over the Brazilians on Tuesday.
Brazil, who defeated Peru 3-1 in the final of the Copa America in Rio de Janeiro in July, never got going to the disappointment of a 32,287 crowd at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.
The defeat brought an end to Brazil’s 17-game winning streak, a run which started with a victory over the United States just over a year ago.
Brazil coach Tite meanwhile opted against starting Paris Saint-Germain star Neymar, four days after he had made a successful return from injury with a goal and an assist in a 2-2 draw with Colombia Friday.
Tite, who had been reluctant to start Neymar in back-to-back games as the striker regains fitness, brought on the PSG forward after 63 minutes in place of Liverpool’s Roberto Firmino.
Neymar attempted to up the tempo in attack, but was unable to break the deadlock, with Brazil, who were also missing Dani Alves and Thiago Silva, struggling to find their usual attacking rhythm.
Instead it was Peru who grabbed a winner, Abram rising to meet Yoshimar Yotun’s free-kick to glance in the winner.