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Argentina 1-0 Honduras: Higuain scores stunner as Messi hobbles off

Gonzalo Higuain continued his goal-scoring form to inspire Argentina to a 1-0 win over Honduras, but the Copa America Centenario warmup fixture was overshadowed by an injury to captain Lionel Messi.

After breaking a 66-year-old Serie A record with 36 league goals for Napoli in 2015-16, in-form striker Higuain was at it again in the first half as Argentina completed its preparations for next week’s Copa America in the United States with a sixth consecutive match without defeat.

Higuain made it seven goals in four games for club and country with a sublime chip just past the half-hour mark in San Juan on Friday.

However, Argentina was left sweating on the fitness of Messi ahead of its opening Copa America fixture against defending champion Chile on June 6 after the Barcelona star suffered an apparent back or kidney injury.

Messi copped a knock to the lower-back area after the hour-mark and received treatment on the ground before he was withdrawn minutes later as he hobbled back to the bench in pain.

In Argentina’s first game since March’s World Cup qualifying win over Bolivia and the only warmup fixture before the Copa America gets underway next week, the South American giant dusted off the cobwebs to control proceedings and was rarely troubled by Honduras.

#VamosArgentina Acá están los titulares de @Argentina para la despedida en San Juan ⚽ https://t.co/hWZij8SASq pic.twitter.com/sn3gzwoLvA
— Selección Argentina (@Argentina) May 27, 2016

With Messi pulling the strings from the outset, Argentina had Honduras on the back foot and was a constant threat in attack.

Argentina almost took a 27th-minute lead via Nicolas Otamendi but the Manchester City center back’s volley from Angel di Maria’s corner flashed just wide of the post.

The Argentinians, though, eventually took the lead they deserved thanks to a moment of brilliance from Higuain.

#VamosArgentina @G_Higuain y su definición top para el 1-0 de la Selección sobre Honduras. pic.twitter.com/K2cqYksbRX
— Selección Argentina (@Argentina) May 27, 2016

Higuain turned his opponent inside-out with a nutmeg through the defender’s legs before scoring with a sublime chip over onrushing Honduras goalkeeper Donis Escober.

It should have been 2-0 for Argentina at halftime but Marcos Rojo – unmarked at the back post – saw his shot somehow saved on the line, six minutes shy of the break.

#VamosArgentina @marcosrojo5 estuvo muy cerquita de gritar el segundo para la Selección. Una lástima… pic.twitter.com/OIHBHZdIoa
— Selección Argentina (@Argentina) May 27, 2016

After Messi was withdrawn just past the hour-mark as a precaution, Argentina had a golden opportunity to double the lead.

However, Escober was up to the task again, denying second-half substitute Sergio Aguero from close range in the 69th minute before teammate Gabriel Mercado hit the post.

Ever Benga – fresh from helping Sevilla to a third consecutive Europa League crown – tried his luck from distance and almost put the result beyond doubt with eight minutes remaining but Escober made a fingertip save.

Sat 28 May, 2016
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