Italy 16 Argentina 23
Argentina staged a superb second-half comeback to claim a victory over a brave Italy team today.
Marcelo Loffreda’s side, who beat England at Twickenham last weekend, scored two tries to one in the second period to edge their hosts at the Stadio Flaminio, after the Azzurri had led 9-3 at the break.
Four minutes into the second period, Federico Todeschini’s second penalty pulled the score back to 9-6.
The Pumas then went in front with a fine try scored on the counter-attack by Todeschini, who converted the extras himself after 54 minutes to give the tourists a 13-9 lead and an advantage they never surrendered.
Just after the hour mark, Argentina effectively sealed victory with another counter-attack try, scored this time by Miguel Avramovic, with Todeschini again slotting the two points for a 20-9 lead.
Italy scrum-half Paul Griffen was booed by the Roman crowd as coach Pierre Berbizier withdrew him after 66 minutes.
There were more jeers when Italy full-back David Bortolussi missed a chance to reduce arrears with a penalty two minutes later.
However, the hosts set up a tense finale when they scored a try two minutes from the end of scheduled play.
Winger Marko Stanojevic touched down after some extended Italian pressure and this time Bortolussi was unerring with his kick.
The hosts were unable to complete the job and Todeschini’s injury-time penalty sealed the win, giving him an 18-point haul for the match.
It was a cruel blow for the Italians, who had held their own against the Twickenham heroes – winning the first half, and had several Argentina-born players in their own line-up.
Italy, who impressed in defeat last week when they lost 25-18 to Australia, were quickly on the defensive when their Latin American visitors took the lead.
Todeschini put over a penalty after 14 minutes but the Azzurri soon hit back and scored all the remaining points in the first period.
Bortolussi landed his first penalty after 25 minutes but, five minutes later, missed what had looked an easy chance to put Italy in front.
However, it was only a reprieve for Argentina as Bortolussi landed two more penalties, in the 33rd and 40th minutes, to earn the Azzurri a 9-3 interval lead.
Argentina had made changes from the team that had beaten England but still looked solid against an Italy team that continues to show signs of improvement under their French coach but which needs a big scalp to underline their progress.