Argentina 4-0 Mexico: Martinez's hat-trick inspires Scaloni's men

Argentina thrashed Mexico 4-0 thanks to a stellar performance from forward Lautaro Martinez.

Argentina forward Lautaro Martinez   -  Getty Images

Lautaro Martinez stole the show to lead Argentina to an impressive 4-0 win over Mexico in a friendly in Texas on Tuesday.

Martinez scored a stunning first-half hat-trick at the Alamodome as Lionel Scaloni's men ran riot in the opening 45 minutes.

Inter forward Martinez was the star, netting three times and also helping Argentina – without the suspended Lionel Messi – win a penalty that was converted by Leandro Paredes.

Martinez came off at the break after putting Argentina in complete control as they saw out a comprehensive victory.

It was quite the way for Mexico to be handed their first defeat under head coach Gerardo Martino, who took over in January.

Martinez 'happy and excited' after first Argentina hat-trick

Lautaro Martinez, 22, was delighted with his performance as he moved onto nine goals for Argentina in 13 appearances.

"I am happy and excited," he said, via the team's Twitter account.

"There is a lot of sacrifice that one makes to be here and not every day three goals are made with this shirt."

The former Racing Club forward paid tribute to his team-mates after his match-winning hat-trick.

"It is very difficult to get here and stay. There are very good players," Martinez said.

"I am very happy and grateful to my team-mates and the coaching staff. We train to give joy to the national team. Hopefully we continue along this path."

Mexico could have been awarded an early penalty for a handball, but instead fell behind in the 17th minute.

Martinez received a pass from Paredes 30 yards from goal, running at the Mexico defence and beating three markers before placing a left-footed strike into the bottom corner.

Just five minutes later and Martinez doubled his, and Argentina's, tally.

Exequiel Palacios put in a beautiful throughball for Martinez's well-timed run, the forward producing a first-time finish into the bottom corner.

Argentina's incredible start continued when they were awarded a penalty for a Carlos Salcedo handball, the ball hitting the defender's outstretched arm after a Martinez flick.

Paredes stepped up and while Mexico goalkeeper Guillermo Ochoa got a hand on the spot-kick, it found the bottom corner to make it 3-0.

Martinez had Mexico panicking and it showed as he remarkably completed a first-half hat-trick.

The 22-year-old's first touch after a Palacios pass let him down but Nestor Araujo was unable to deal with the loose ball, Martinez claiming possession again before firing past Ochoa.

Martinez came off at half-time and Argentina almost struck again six minutes into the second half, Ochoa saving a strike from Rodrigo De Paul.

Substitutions impacted the rhythm of the contest, although Argentina were never in trouble after Martine's first-half heroics.

What does it mean? Scaloni's Argentina produce one of their best

Scaloni has faced plenty of criticism since taking the helm, but Tuesday's first half was undoubtedly one of Argentina's best since he was named coach in August last year. Martinez's performance helped, but they denied Mexico clear-cut chances and were clinical.

Martinez marvellous for Argentina

The Inter forward had Mexico's defence worried throughout and he took his chances. Palacios' wonderful pass set up Martinez's second, but it was otherwise the former Racing Club doing all the hard work to move onto nine international goals.

Martino unable to stop Mexico's Argentina woe

Under Martino, Mexico have shown they can contend with South American sides, beating Chile, Paraguay, Venezuela and Ecuador during an 11-match unbeaten streak with the former Barcelona boss in charge. But they are now winless in their past 10 meetings with Argentina, a run dating back to the 2004 Copa America.

What's next?

Argentina will take on Germany in a friendly next month, while Mexico meet Trinidad and Tobago before CONCACAF Nations League clashes with Bermuda and Panama.

- Scaloni hails 'perfect' Argentina's team spirit -

Lionel Scaloni was delighted with his side's convincing 4-0 win against Mexico.  "We knew the way that Mexico would play and we came out quickly to create some chances," he told a news conference. "We are happy because we played a perfect game.

"We knew that Mexico would dominate the opening minutes and that's why we were prepared to go out on the counter-attack.

"We gave the feeling that we are a team - that's the important thing. Everyone played for their lives, for their team-mates and for wanting to be in the Argentina team.

"We knew that if we recovered the ball, we would have to get it quickly to the striker.

"It's no good if we just defend well. We analysed Mexico a lot and we were courageous enough to do what we had to do in this match.

"We want an Argentina team that is competitive, where our opponents respect us."

Martinez was substituted at half-time, with Scaloni revealing the striker had been carrying a knock prior to the match, joking the Inter star appeared to play better injured.

"The change was planned, because he had some discomfort," the coach said. "Hopefully he can continue playing with discomfort."