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Argentina beats Italy 2-1 in friendly for pope

Argentina without Lionel Messi beats Italy 2-1 in friendly match honoring Pope Francis

Argentina beats Italy 2-1 in friendly for pope

ROME (AP) -- An Argentina side without Lionel Messi beat Italy 2-1 Wednesday in a friendly match honoring Pope Francis.

Gonzalo Higuain put Argentina in front in the 20th minute and substitute Ever Banega doubled its lead four minutes into the second half before Lorenzo Insigne pulled one back with his first goal for Italy in the 76th minute.

Higuain, Napoli's new signing, was one of several Argentina players currently in Serie A.

Pope Francis is an avid football fan, who comes from Argentina. He met the teams in the Apostolic Palace on Tuesday.

AC Milan and Italy striker Mario Balotelli missed the match with an injury.

The last time the teams met was in 2001 -- also a friendly in Rome that Argentina won 2-1.

Updated : 2021-05-19 05:56 GMT+08:00