World champions Argentina shade Uzbekistan in Tashkent clash

The match-winning goal was provided by Lucas Bolo Alemany with eight minutes remaining in the first half, before Bakhodir Akhmedov’s side came close to an equaliser on a number of occasions after the interval.

Uzbekistan gave their guests a welcome worthy of world champions, presenting them with traditional Uzbek garments and Uzbekistan-Argentina hybrid shirts in a tribute to the recently departed Diego Maradona in a pre-game ceremony.

With the hosts in their more familiar all blue playing shirts in time for kick off and the pleasantries out of the way, the teams settled in for a relatively even first half battle.

In their first match since before the COVID-19 pandemic spread throughout the world, an Argentina side featuring a number of their 2016 World Cup heroes looked to take control, but goals proved hard to come by for both sides.

Bolo Alemany eventually broke the deadlock with a simple close-range finish 12 minutes into the first-half, and the South Americans could have added to their lead, hitting the woodwork twice more before half-time.

Sunatulla Juraev had one of Uzbekistan’s best scoring chances of the match when he found himself clear on goal with just over six minutes remaining in the second half, but he thrashed his effort wide of Lucas Farach’s net, before the goalkeeper made an important stop to deny Akbar Usmonov less than a minute later.

Uzbekistan adopted the power play in the final two minutes of the contest, but Argentina held firm to seal a winning return to the international stage.

The two sides will return to the same venue on Wednesday for the second and final match of the series.

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