Gonzalo Higuain and Javier Pastore were in mid-season form during the Argentine players’ appearance in the Juventus-Paris Saint-Germain International Champions Cup match at Hard Rock Stadium Wednesday night.
And while the European clubs look forward to many contributions from Higuain and Pastore when the Italian Serie A and French Ligue 1 begin their seasons next month, new Argentina national team coach Jorge Sampaoli will welcome similar performances as the South American power prepares for its final stretch of South American World Cup qualifiers in September.
Higuain and Pastore scored goals for their respective squads and Argentine teammates Paulo Dybala and Angel DiMaria contributed with assists in the exhibition match won by Juventus, 3-2, on Claudio Marchisio’s penalty kick conversion in the 89th minute. Marchisio also scored Juventus’ second goal in the 62ndminute.
The impact by Argentina players Wednesday could also be a welcomed sight for a national team which struggled early in qualifiers and changed coaches last month.
Argentina currently is fifth in World Cup qualifiers with four matches remaining. The top four teams automatically earn World Cup bids and the fifth-place finisher will need to play an additional elimination round.
Higuain scored the game’s opening goal in the 45th minute and gave Juventus a 1-0 lead. The veteran forward sent a pass to fellow Argentina national teammate Paulo Dybala, who returned a pass to Higuain. Higuain dribbled inside the large area and beat PSG goalkeeper Alphonse Areola with a shot from 15 yards.
DiMaria assisted on Goncalo Guedes’ game-tying goal eight minutes into the second half. A member of Argentina’s 2010 and 2014 World Cup squads, DiMaria centered a pass to Guedes, who tapped in a shot inside the 6-yard box.
The veteran DiMaria spoke with Dybala, 23, outside the teams’ dressing rooms following the game. Dybala made his first national team appearance two years ago and European media have intensified reports in the past week of a possible transfer of the midfielder to Barcelona if Neymar joins PSG.
The format in the exhibition tournament provides coaches with the opportunity to substitute freely instead of the three allowed in league and international matches.
Higuain left the match at halftime and DiMaria played until the 60th minute. Pastore entered as a reserve in the 60th minute and tied the match with his goal in the 80th minute.