Thursday, 17 June 2010
Argentina Sweeps Past South Korea
Argentina 4 South Korea 1, Soccer City, Johannesburg
After wasting a hatful of chances against Nigeria, there was to no repeat for Argentina against South Korea. A thumping 4-1 win saw Maradona's side stamp its class on this World Cup and demonstrate that they are going to be a force to be reckoned with.
Messi was again at the heart of all Argentina's good play, heavily involved in all 4 goals and putting a delightful chip just wide after beating players with ease on the edge of the box. The comparisons with his Manager are only going to intensify as the weeks go by. But it was Higuain who ultimately grabbed the headlines with the first hat-trick of the tournament.
A inswinging goal free-kick from Messi started the ball rolling. The Korean defence couldn't deal with it and it was left to Park Chu-Young to apply the decisive touch into his own net. Messi then combined with Maxi Rodrgiguez from another free-kick to allow the latter to cross into the Korean box. It was flicked on and Higuain rose to head his first past Jung Sung-Ryong between the Korean sticks.
There was a mini-scare on the stroke of half-time as terrible defending from Dimichelis allowed Lee Chung-Yong to pull one back with a deft finish. Could Argentina be exposed at the back by more talented teams later in the competition? 2-1 at the break and there was work for Maradona to do.
His players responded in the second half, although South Korea had a glorious chance to make it 2-2. Yeom Ki-Hun really should have hit the target after being presented with a one-on-one chance agaist Romero. Argentina survived and Messi was inevitably to the fore for the next goal, first seeing his shot saved and then his second, from the follow-up, hit the post. Thankfully for La Albiceleste the second rolled across the goal-line and it was the simplest of tap-ins for Higuain.
His third was only a matter of minutes away as Aguero stabbed over a cross after being released by Messi. Higuain headed home the cross with ease but in truth it was probably more difficult to miss. The match ball for the Real Madrid striker and a timely confidence boost.
But as always with Argentina it's sensible to leave the last words to Maradona. It's an 'easy' job for him at the moment:
'When you have amazing players like I have, then my job is an easy one.'
As usual there were plenty of hugs and kisses for his team after the game but don't worry it's just good old-fashioned male-bonding:
'I still prefer women. I am dating Veronica, who is blonde and 31 years old. But I like to acknowledge and congratulate my players when they play as well as they did today.'
And after his recent verbal sparring with Platini and Pele, when he told Pele he should, 'go back to the museum,' there were some conciliatory words:
'I want to say sorry to Platini - but not to Pele.'
Good to have you at the party Diego.
How they lined up: Romero, Demichelis, Heinze (Yellow card), Samuel (Burdisso, 23), Di Maria, Mascherano (Captain, Yellow card), Gutierrez (Yellow card), Maxi, Higuain (Bolatti, 82), Messi, Tevez (Aguero, 75)