The Argentine National Women's Football Team made its debut in the World Cup held in Australia - New Zealand with a 1-0 loss against Italy at Eden Park Stadium in Auckland (New Zealand), for the first matchday of Group G. Cristiana Girelli scored the only goal of the match.
Although it was not the dream start, the Albiceleste demonstrated the great physical and footballing growth they have been working on for several years.
An even 45 minutes
In the opening minutes the Italians played in Argentina's half but lacked precision in the final metres. In the 14th minute, Arianna Carusso dominated a cross, turned and scored but the goal was disallowed for offside.It was the first warning for Germán Portanova's team.
The national team, for their part, tried to play out wide and build from the wings and connect with Estefanía Banini, the most skillful player in the Albiceleste squad. As the minutes passed, the match evened out, although the Italian team had more ball possession.
In the 40th minute, Giuli Dragoni, one of the Azzurri stars, started a great play, connecting with Chiara Beccari, whose assist found Giacinti. She finished past Vanina Correa, but again, the goal was disallowed for offside. In the final minutes of the first half, Argentina pressed higher up the pitch but found the Italian defence well stopped.
Italy narrowly secured victory in the last minutes
At the start of the second half, Eliana Stábile took a free-kick, curling it towards the far post, and Francesca Durante made a diving save to deny the goal. The ball remained alive in the box, but no Argentine attacker managed to push it in. Argentina came close to scoring their first goal.
After that chance, Italy pushed forward and while the defenders held their ground, it was not a comfortable passage for Portanova's side which struggled to break out from the back.
At 71 minutes, Albiceleste had another clear opportunity from a set piece. Stábile again took a free kick and her shot went straight at Durante who cleared the ball.Incredibly, it rebounded off Mariana Larroqutte and went out of play.
The Argentine national team put in a tremendous effort throughout the match and the fatigue was beginning to show, but they held firm. With this scenario, the coach decided to go for the win and started to move some pieces.making some changes. Yamila Rodríguez came on for Romina Núñez, who showed the most presence in the match.
Portanova continued to make changes up front and sent Dalila Ippólito and Paulina Gramaglia onto the field for Daiana Falfán and Larroquette, two clearly offensive substitutions.
With Argentina pressing forward, Italy took advantage of the space that was somehow left free after Núñez's substitution, and in the 86th minute, after a cross from the side, Cristiana Girelli rose and scored with a header to make it 1-0.
In stoppage time Argentina had the chance to equalise with a free kick by Florencia Bonsegundo, but Durante made a brilliant save and no Albiceleste player managed to capture the rebound.
In the end it was a narrow victory for Italy, but the Argentine national team left an image rarely seen in a World Cup: a solid team with clear ideas and a proactive approach. There is still time to keep dreaming.
The next match for the national team will be on Thursday, July 27, at 9pm (Argentine time) against South Africa.
Argentina vs Italy: the line-ups
Argentina: Vanina Correa; Sophia Braun, Miriam Mayorga, Aldana Cometti, Eliana Stabile; Lorena Benítez, Daiana Falfán, Romina Núñez, Estefanía Banini; Florencia Bonsegundo and Mariana Larroquette. Coach: Germán Portanova.
Italy: Francesca Durante; Lucia Di Guglielmo, Elena Linari, Cecilia Salvai, Lisa Boattin; Manuela Giugliano, Guilia Dragoni; Arianna Caruso; Barbara Bonasea, Chiara Beccari; Giacinti. Coach: Milena Bertolini.
Elsewhere in Group G
In the first Group G match, Sweden turned South Africa around to beat them 2-1 on the hour.
At the Sky Stadium in Wellington, the Europeans dominated proceedings throughout the first half, but the Africans defended well and even had the chance to open the scoring on the counter.
But the scoreline was broken in the second half. Hildah Magaia's goal put South Africa 1-0 up, and almost twenty minutes later Fridolina Rolfö equalised, before Amanda Illested's header on the stroke of half-time sealed a 2-1 win for Sweden.