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Argentina, without Messi, beats El Salvador 2-0

Ever Banega scored on a deflected shot, Federico Mancuello added a late goal and Argentina beat El Salvador 2-0 in a friendly match on Saturday.

Argentina played a lacklustre game without its star Lionel Messi, who stayed on the bench with a right foot bruise. The Barcelona star took a knock last Sunday in the Spanish league ‘clasico’ against Real Madrid, and missed several training sessions this week with the national team.

Messi had tests done Tuesday that revealed no serious injury.

Argentina coach Gerardo Martino said he decided to not play Messi after a practice Friday, in which the striker was still showing lingering pain.

“If the player is not ready, there is not a need to put him at risk,” Martino said.

Banega scored with a 54th minute shot that deflected off defender Nestor Renderos and beat goalkeeper Derby Carrillo. Mancuello sealed the win with a free-kick from a tight angle in the 88th.

Martino started Carlos Tevez for the first time since taking over the team last year, but the Juventus forward was ineffective in attack with Gonzalo Higuain and Angel Di Maria.

Argentina faces Ecuador on Tuesday in the Meadowlands, in its last warm-up match before Copa America in June.


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