Argentina player ratings vs Australia: Lionel Messi wows in China as Alejandro Garnacho finally makes his bow

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Lionel Messi once again showed his class on the international stage as he led Argentina to a comfortable win over Australia

The Albiceleste faced the Socceroos in a friendly match on Thursday which saw a repeat of the two sides' World Cup last-16 clash.

Argentina captain Lionel Messi landed in China to great fanfare, with supporters across the country going crazy for the arrival of the mercurial Argentine. And it didn't take long for him to treat fans to a glimpse of his magic, with a textbook finish inside 120 seconds sealing the fastest goal of his glittering career.

Messi wasn't satisfied with that, though, gifting the rapturous crowd to a number of flicks and tricks as Argentina cruised into a two-goal lead midway through the second half. Poor defending from Australia saw substitute German Pezzella left in acres of space in the box, and he was picked out perfectly by Rodrigo de Paul for the second goal.

Argentina threatened a third but eventually settled for a 2-0 victory, extending their incredible run to just one defeat in 47 matches across all competitions.

GOAL rates Argentina's players from Beijing Workers' Stadium...

  1. Goalkeeper & Defence
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    Goalkeeper & Defence

    Emiliano Martinez (6/10):

    Not often tested due to Australia's subpar finishing, but made a vital stop to deny Mitchell Duke in the first half - even if he was aided by the post.

    Nahuel Molina (6/10):

    Didn't put a foot wrong in Beijing, but didn't do too much spectacular either.

    Cristian Romero (5/10):

    A bit shaky at times building out from the back, guilty of a few loose passes.

    Nicolas Otamendi (6/10):

    Only afforded one half after being flattened by Duke during a first-half corner. Nothing too much to report.

    Marcos Acuna (6/10):

    Was given some trouble by an industrious Matthew Leckie, but ultimately to no avail.

  2. Midfield
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    Rodrigo de Paul (7/10):

    Was heading for a distinctly average performance before playing in a delightful cross for German Pezzella to head home on 68 minutes.

    Enzo Fernandez (7/10):

    Started the game looking off the pace, but eventually got into it. Occasionally had to step in after some lackadaisical passing at the back. Brought off for Leandro Paredes with 15 to go.

    Alexis Mac Allister (6/10):

    The opposite of Enzo. Started brightly with some succinct passing and zippy movement, but tailed off. Substituted for Julian Alvarez on the hour mark.

  3. Attack


    Angel Di Maria (7/10):

    Looked a threat down Argentina's right and can probably count himself unfortunate to come off so early. Only lasted an hour before Giovani Lo Celso was brought on.

    Lionel Messi (8/10):

    Unsurprisingly, Argentina's best player. Set the tone with a fine goal after less than two minutes, but his performance was much more than that. Australia were largely unable to do deal with his free-flowing movement and link-up play, audibly delighting almost everyone in a packed-out Beijing Workers' Stadium.

    Nicolas Gonzalez (5/10):

    Probably the biggest underperformer, the Fiorentina man was well marshalled by Nathaniel Atkinson down Australia's right. Brought off for Alejandro Garnacho after 74 minutes.

  4. Subs & Manager
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    Subs & Manager

    German Pezzella (7/10):

    What an introduction! Like his predecessor Otamendi in the first half, rarely challenged by Australia's attack, but got on the end of De Paul's delightful cross after 68 minutes to score only his third international goal.

    Julian Alvarez (6/10):

    Came on at the hour mark, and was denied what would have been a fine team goal thanks to a great save from Matt Ryan shortly after his introduction. Perhaps should have scored after from close range.

    Giovani Lo Celso (5/10):

    Came on alongside Alvarez but offered very little of note. Scaloni would probably have been better suited keeping Di Maria on.

    Alejandro Garnacho (5/10):

    Brought on after 74 minutes. Poor touch put an end to a threatening move started by the majestic Messi. Huge moment in his career as he earned his international debut with the Albiceleste.

    Leandro Paredes (5/10):

    Joined Garnacho from the substitutes bench but offered very little. Game had already been won by the time of his introduction.

    Lionel Scaloni (7/10):

    Job done. Starting pretty much his full strength side paid off for the Argentina boss, as his players had the talent to breeze past Australia without really getting into second gear. Will be interesting to see how they fare in Messi's absence against Indonesia, though, as the Inter Miami star was once again central to everything going forward.