Gonzalo Higuain scored one and made one as Argentina survived a second half Italy fight back to win 2-1 in Rome.
Napoli striker Higuain opened the scoring with a finely taken opener from the edge of the box.
Argentina went 2-0 ahead four minutes after the restart when substitute Ever Banega capped a slick counter-attack with a neat finish.
Italy struck the bar and had a goal chalked off before Lorenzo Insigne scored a superb consolation – but Argentina held on for the win.
Pope Francis gave the Italy and Argentina players a special blessing on Tuesday ahead of this eagerly anticipated contest. And while the football was not exactly heavenly, it was the open and entertaining contest that many expected.
Perhaps a little too open for Italy, whose defence were stretched several times in the opening minutes. So it was no surprise when Higuain, who has recently swapped Madrid for Naples, opened the scoring with a fine effort.
Receiving the ball from former Real Madrid team-mate Angel Di Maria, who drove at the back pedalling Italy defence, Higuain stepped inside Daniele De Rossi and arrowed a rising shot beyond Gianluigi Buffon.
Italy created a couple of chances, but Argentina continued to dominate and were denied a cast iron penalty when Higuain was hauled to the ground by the out of position Giorgio Chiellini, who somehow got away with a very clumsy challenge.
Rodrigo Palacio spurned a great chance moments later when he somehow slid the ball over from a few yards out, with Italy’s best chance almost falling to Pablo Osvaldo – but the outstretched striker just failed to make contact with a cross at the far post.
Argentina stemmed any hopes Italy had of making a strong start to the second half when one of the newly introduced substitute put daylight between the sides three minutes in. Higuain was involved again as he led the counter-attack before feeding Banega, who drilled into the bottom corner.
The second goal stirred Italy, who played their best football when they had nothing to lose. Alessandro Diamanti lifted a delicate free-kick over the wall and onto the bar and the bright Osvaldo spurned a good opening when he could only drill into the side-netting.
But Italy’s moment came when another substitute Insigne curled a loose ball into the top corner from the edge of the box in brilliantly nonchalant fashion to give Italy hope.
Italy threw everything at Argentina in the final 10 minutes but Argentina, who wasted chances to snatch a third goal on the counter attack, held firm to come out on top of a game that would have kept every Argentina fan, including the Pope, thoroughly entertained.