Argentina make it five in a row in Italy
Italy's miserable home run against Argentina continued on Saturday as the Pumas won for the fifth successive time, 22-16 at the Bentegodi stadium.
Pumas captain Felipe Contepomi kicked five penalties to Mirco Bergamasco's three with Pumas fullback Martin Rodriguez scoring a try and Italy replying with a penalty try.
Argentina move on to play France next while Italy will host Australia in a week's time.
In what was a largely dour affair, it was settled by Argentina's greater success with the boot as try-scoring chances were few and far between.
Italy started like a team determined to end their losing home run to the Pumas.
Flyhalf Craig Gower offloaded to Robert Barbieri in midfield and he played in Sergio Parisse but with only Rodriguez to beat, the Azzurri captain chipped ahead with the ball going dead.
Parisse had another half chance as he broke free down the right wing but Contepomi had him in his sights and despite the Stade Francais number eight's attempt at a hitch-kick, the Pumas captain tackled him into touch 10 yards out.
Italy took the lead on 10 minutes with Bergamasco's second penalty attempt from just inside the Argentina half but Contepomi banged over a penalty of his own on 17 minutes.
The closest Argentina came to scoring was when Italy fullback Luke McLean took an age to clear from inside the 22, his kick being tipped and giving Gonzalo Camacho the ball in a promising position but McLean got back to stop the Harlequins winger before a Contepomi pass went astray to end the move.
Bergamasco kicked over for a 6-3 lead on 29 minutes but after missing one from out wide, Contepomi landed a much easier kick two minutes before the break for a 6-6 halftime score.
At the start of the second period Contepomi and Bergamasco both missed easier penalties than they had already scored.
The Pumas went ahead with a lightning break on 49 minutes from their own 22 as left-winger Lucas Gonzalez-Amorosino chipped down the line, collected the ball and offloaded to Rodriguez to run in unopposed.
Contepomi kicked the extra points for a 13-6 lead.
Italy had a chance to get back into the game with a line-out five yards out but they tried to barge over the line through the powerful Pumas forwards instead of spreading the ball wide and eventually turned over possession.
Bergamasco's penalty on 68 minutes briefly reduced the deficit but within five minutes of that, Contepomi had knocked over two penalties of his own to stretch the gap to 10 points.
Argentina's Mariano Galarza was sin-binned late on with Italy awarded a penalty try after the Pumas wheeled a five-yard scrum as it approached their line.
Bergamasco kicked the conversion but Contepomi scored a penalty with the last kick of the match.