Madrid: Spain bolstered their credentials as one of the leading contenders for the 2018 FIFA World Cup as they thrashed Argentina 6-1 in a friendly encounter at Atletico Madrid’s Wanda Metropolitano on Tuesday.
Diego Costa and Isco put the hosts ahead inside the first half-hour, but Nicolas Otamendi’s 39th-minute header got Argentina back in the game before the break.
However, two quickfire Spain goals from Isco and Thiago Alcantara in the 10 minutes following half-time effectively wrapped up the win.
Seventeen minutes from time, Iago Aspas got on the scoresheet before Isco completed his hat-trick moments later to seal a ludicrously comfortable evening for the Spanish.
While Spain remained undefeated in 18 matches under Julen Lopetegui and strengthened its credentials as a favorite for the title in Russia, Jorge Sampaoli will face more doubts about Argentina’s chances to finally win a World Cup title with Messi.
Diego Costa, Thiago Alcantara and half-time substitute Iago Aspas also scored for Spain.
A minor leg problem kept Messi from playing in Argentina’s 2-0 win over Italy in Manchester, England, on Friday.
Sampaoli had said on Monday that his star player was better and that he expected him to play against Spain, but he left him out of his squad come match time.