Argentina 64 Namibia 19
There was no Diego Maradona for inspiration, but Argentina did not need him as the Pumas danced past Namibia in a nine-try, 64-19 win at Leicester City Stadium.
Maradona, who danced in the changing room following last week’s defeat of Tonga, says he will return if the Pumas make the semi-finals and improvement will be needed if his promise is to be fulfilled.
Juan Martin Hernandez, Matias Moroni, Horacio Agulla – one of three Pumas in the matchday 23 with a Leicester Tigers connection – Facundo Isa and Lucas Noguera scored first-half tries.
And Matias Alemanno, Leonardo Senatore, Julian Montoya and Tomas Cubelli crossed the line in the second as the Pumas finished Pool C as runners-up behind holders New Zealand.
Namibia exited by making another impression following their first World Cup point last Wednesday in Exeter, a losing bonus against Georgia.
They scored three tries as Johan Tromp capitalised on poor Pumas handling while down to 14 men. JC Greyling punished another Argentina mistake early in the second half and Eugene Jantjies scored the game’s final try.
It was not an entirely convincing performance by Argentina, but it did not need to be and head coach Daniel Hourcade will likely revert to his first-choice XV for the last-eight clash against either France or Ireland.
Santiago Gonzalez Iglesias missed an early penalty in front of the posts, but it mattered not as Moroni next darted down the right and found Hernandez with an inside pass to score.
Greyling was sin-binned for a high tackle on Hernandez, allowing Iglesias to kick the Pumas 10 points ahead.
It appeared Argentina had relaxed too much when a series of handling mistakes allowed Tromp to hack through and collect his own kick before scoring.
Moroni claimed a deserved score when he came in off his wing and brushed aside four would-be tacklers to saunter in under the posts.
Agulla, now of Bath, scored on the overlap but only after Iglesias appeared to obstruct a defender. The Television Match Official sided with the Pumas.
Another former Tiger, Lucas Gonzalez Amorosino, embarked on a crowd-pleasing 70-metre run which began when he took a mark in his own 22 and ended when he knocked the ball on.
The Pumas pack hunted the next score themselves, with Isa scoring after a catch-and-drive from a lineout. Some fisticuffs ensued but the try stood.
Argentina next fumbled the ball within sight of the line but it went backwards and Noguera picked up to score.
Namibia scored first in the second half as Greyling pounced on a loose pass in midfield, but Argentina’s forwards showed their power once more and Alemanno crossed.
Tromp was stopped short as Namibia sought a third try and Argentina replacement Marcelo Bosch was sin-binned for a late tip-tackle on Theuns Kotze in the build-up.
Namibia were exerting pressure, but also tiring, and the Pumas pounced on the counter.
Replacement Senatore scored after a fine Agulla run through a fragmented Namibian defence and Montoya crashed through a gaping hole for the eighth try.
Argentina were enjoying themselves and Cubelli ran in another try but Namibia had the final say when Jantjies scored.
Retiring prop Johnny Redelinghuys took the conversion but missed.