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17.06.2010 15:54

Messi and Argentina almost through (4-1)


Argentina are virtually through to the second round of the World Cup after destroying South Korea 4-1. Barcelona’s Leo Messi played all 90 minutes.

1248127_large.jpgThis win, on the back of a 1-0 victory over Nigeria in their opening game, leaves Argentina top of their group with six points. As long as they can avoid a heavy defeat to Greece in their final game, that means the South Americans are through to the last sixteen. But so convincing was their performance against South Korea this afternoon that most leading bookmakers are now quoting Diego Maradona’s side as favourites to win the entire competition.

Messi causing trouble

And much of that is due to the presence of Leo Messi, who despite failing to open his World Cup goalscoring account, was heavily involved in the action and contributed to two his team’s four goals.

But their opening goal came from a most unexpected source, with Korea’s Park Chu-Young turning the ball into his own net. It was then Higuaín who added to the lead in the 31st minute, putting Argentina into a comfortable position that meant they were able to relax a little. A little too much as it happens, because sloppy defending from Dimichelis allowed to Lee Chung-Yong to pull one back on the edge of half-time.

In the second half, South Korea did occasionally threaten to find an equaliser, but it generally one-way traffic, with Argentina in supreme control and producing a display that many rival managers will have observed with concern. Leo Messi was constantly in the thick of it, including several of his trademark dazzling runs, but he was once again was lacking that little bit of luck in front of goal.

Argentina in total control

Dibujo.JPGInstead it was Higuaín who did the scoring, completing the tournament’s first hat trick with two goals in the space of five minutes. He largely had Messi to thank for the first of those, after the FCB star had sent the ball onto the Korean post, only for it to deflect across the face of the goal for the unmarked Higuaín to tap home. Messi was also the creator of the fourth, when a great individual play of his ended with Agüero supplying the final assist to Higuaín.

The ‘albiceleste’ will finish thee group stage on Tuesday 22 at the Peter Mokaba Stadium against Greece, whose own qualification hopes took a vital boost this afternoon when they saw off Nigeria, 2-1. It’s looking very positive for Argentina, for only a very heavy defeat to Greece would see them go out now, and judging by today’s display, it is very unlikely indeed that that will happen. Questions may have been asked about Argentina before this tournament, but the critics were certainly silenced this afternoon.
Messi and Argentina almost through (4-1)
Match stats
Argentina, 4
South Korea, 1

Argentina: Romero, Demichelis, Heinze, Di Maria, Higuaín (Bolatti, min 82), Messi, Tévez (Agüero, min 75), Samuel (Burdisso, min 22), Mascherano, Jonas and Maxi Rodríguez.

South Korea: Sungryong, Beomseok, Yonghyung, Jisung, Jungwoo, Chuyoung, Youngpyo, Jungsoo, Sungyueng (Namil, 46’), Chungyong and Kihun.

1-0. Chuyoung, 16’ (og)
2-0. Higuaín, 31’
2-1. Chuyoung, 45’
3-1. Higuaín, 75’
4-1. Higuaín, 80’

Referee: Frank de Bleeckere

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