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SPORTS | 10-06-2024 10:10

Di María on target as Argentina down Ecuador 1-0

Ángel Di María scores only goal of the game as Argentina warm up for the defence of their Copa América crown with a 1-0 friendly victory over Ecuador in Chicago.

Ángel Di María scored the only goal as Argentina warmed up for the defence of their Copa América crown with a 1-0 friendly victory over Ecuador in Chicago on Sunday.

Di María, named as captain for the match with skipper Lionel Messi on the bench, bagged his 31st international goal in the 40th minute of an entertaining clash at Soldier Field.

Patient approach play saw Atlético Madrid midfielder Rodrigo De Paul play an incisive pass to defender Cristian Romero in an advanced position on the edge of the area.

The Tottenham Hotspur centre-back swivelled brilliantly and picked out Di María with a superb reverse pass and the veteran winger darted in before steering a deft low finish past Ecuador goalkeeper Hernan Galindez.

Di María made way for Messi on 56 minutes but the Inter Miami star was unable to help Argentina add to the scoreline.

Sunday's game in Chicago was one of two friendlies Argentina have scheduled before they kick off their defence of the Copa América title on June 20 against Canada in Atlanta.

The reigning world champions face Guatemala in Landover, Maryland, on Friday as they wrap up preparations for the Copa América, which is being staged in the United States this year with teams from CONCACAF participating.

Argentina won the 2021 edition of the tournament, which was staged in Brazil.

"Ecuador is an opponent that we can meet [in the Copa America]. We know that it's a more than complicated tournament, that it's going to be tough, and this was a good match to see how we are, and I think we're on the right track," said the goalscorer Di María, who plans to retire from the national team at the end of the tournament.

After the match, Argentina coach Lionel Scaloni said Messi's limited playing time was justified as "there are times when there is no need to take risks."

"There are times when there is no need to take risks, both with him [Messi] and with others. Other players didn't play today, like [Nicolás] Otamendi. Di María had his minutes, Enzo [Fernandez] came back after the operation. We have to look after them and make sure they are in top condition," said the coach.

"These [friendly] matches always have risks, which can be injuries or setbacks. We try not to let them happen. In some cases, like Nahuel Molina, we didn't want to risk him, he's not 100 percent," Scaloni added.

Scaloni said the match was a good test. "I thought it was a good game," said the World Cup winning coach. "It was very intense for a friendly. "

Argentina, who will defend their  are going into the Copa América as one of the favourites. 


Argentina - Ecuador 1 - 0 (Di María, 40)
Soldier Field (Chicago)

Argentina: Emiliano Martínez - Gonzalo Montiel (Lucas Martínez Quarta 86), Leandro Paredes (Nicolás González 78), Rodrigo de Paul (Exequiel Palacios 86), Marcos Acuña - Julián Álvarez (Ángel Correa 78), Cristian Romero - Giovani Lo Celso, Lautaro Martínez (Enzo Fernández 56), Ángel Di María (cap) (Lionel Messi 56), Lisandro Martínez. Coach: Lionel Scaloni.

Ecuador: Hernán Galíndez (cap) - Angelo Preciado, Félix Torres, William Pacho, Piero Hincapié - Franco Palma (Enner Valencia 62), Moisés Caicedo, Kendry Páez, Julio Ortiz (Carlos Gruezo 62), Alan Minda - Jeremy Sarmiento (Ángel Mena 78). Coach: Félix Sánchez.




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