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11.06.2010 18:47

Márquez scores as Messi prepares


Rafael Márquez became the first FC Barcelona to make his mark at the World Cup Finals when he earned Mexico a point with a goal in the 1-1 draw opening day encounter against hosts South Africa.

The central defender had stayed up following a corner and was left unmarked to control a cross from Andrés Guardado at the far post before slotting home a leveller with 12 minutes of the game remaining.

Sud-xfrica-Mxxic_Giovanni.jpgIn an exciting first game of the tournament former Blaugrana starlet Giovanni Dos Santos shone in a first half dominated by Mexico in Johannesburg, but it was the home team that took the lead after the break when the impressive Siphiwe Tshabalala had netted.

Former South Africa president Nelson Mandela was due to attend the first match, but a family tragedy prevented the iconic leader from being there.

French falter

In the evening encounter on Friday in Group A two Barça players appeared for France as Éric Abidal completed the entire match while Thierry Henry came off the bench in a goalless draw with Uruguay.
Henry's participation had earned headlines in the build-up, but few predicted that a game with such attacking talent on both sides would end without any goals.

Instead the match was marked by the World Cup's first red card as Uruguayan substitute Nicolas Lodeiro was booked twice after coming in the second half and was sent for an early bath.

Argentina start

Saturday is the first time that three matches will be played in one day as the tournament kicks into gear and the world's best player makes his first appearance as Lionel Messi and Argentina meet Nigeria.
South Korea and Greece open proceedings in the early kick off in Group B before the Albiceleste play the Super Eagles in Ellis Park, Johannesburg.

Messi has World Cup experience already as he became the youngest player to represent Argentina in the tournament when he replaced Maxi Rodríguez in the game against Serbia four years ago.
Another record was then broken by the youngster as he netted in the 6-0 win over the hapless Serbians to become the youngest scorer in the tournament and sixth youngest scorer in the history of the World Cup.

After starting against Holland and then going on as a substitute against Mexico in the second round, Messi was left on the bench as the team were eliminated in the quarter finals by Germany on penalties.
Márquez scores as Messi prepares
Three Lions
The evening encounter pits Fabio Capello's England team against the United States in the Group C match in Rustenburg with both teams hoping to make a good start before taking on Algeria and Slovenia next.

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