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Aguero gives Argentina win over Russian Federation at WCup final stadium

13 November 2017

The national side have become particularly reliant on Messi since his U-turn on retirement from global football, and needed his goals against Ecuador to ensure qualification for next year's tournament.

"We want to reach the World Cup in the best way", Messi was quoted on the official Twitter handle of the Argentine Football Association on Saturday.

"He understood the philosophy of the game and was very active even though he didn't have much space".

"I hope we never end up without Messi", the defender after Saturday's game.

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Argentina struggled to break down Russia's defense but coach Jorge Sampaoli saw encouraging signs. "We played in a bold, direct manner".

Messi and Argentina are preparing to face 2018 World Cup hosts Russian Federation in a friendly on Saturday. They are Germany, Brazil, Portugal, Argentina, Belgium, Poland and France. "We play many games in the season - the Champions League, the Copa del Rey, La Liga, plus everything about the national team and the trips", Messi said.

"The team dominated Rusia at home and we have to continue moving forward collectively ahead of what's coming".

Aguero's goal took him level with Hernan Crespo for third place on the list of Argentina's all-time goal scorers, and Sampaoli sung his striker's praises.

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Cherchesov said playing against 2014 World Cup finalist Argentina was ideal preparation for Russian Federation to learn how to pull off a shock against higher-rated opposition at the World Cup.

Cherchesov added: "I think our defence played correctly from a tactical point of view but we were unable to start quality attacks, especially in the first half, when we had the ball".

"I think the opponent was stronger than us and there are some more hard matches waiting for us".

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Aguero gives Argentina win over Russian Federation at WCup final stadium