Sunday, 13 June 2010
Heinze Meanz Opening Win for Argentina
Argentina 1 Nigeria 0, Ellis Park Stadium
A bullet-like diving header from Gabriel Heinze, ensured that Maradona's men kicked off their World Cup campaign with victory at Ellis Park Stadium.
Although the goal came as early as the 6th minute, La Albiceleste could not find a further way past Enyeama in the Nigerian goal, despite countless chances. Messi was in ominously good form, stringing everything together and sending a clear message that he is ready to come to the party.
A driving run into the box from the Barca maestro led to the first real chance of the match but Higuain's shot was side-footed wide with the goal at his mercy. Messi came again moments later but his vicious drive was tipped over the bar.
But the hoards of Argentinian fans in the ground did not have to wait long for the opener. A Veron corner was met with a wonderful, flying header from Heinze into the top corner. The ex-Manchester United full-back was ecstatic and the bench celebrated as if the World Cup was in the bag and on the plane back to Buenos Aires.
Higuain wasted another glorious chance later in the half after being put through by Tevez. One-on-one with the keeper it really should have been net bulging time, but his effort was saved. More smart work from Messi almost led to his first goal of the tournament. A quick one-two from a free-kick on the right saw Messi marauding into the area and curling a left foot shot goal-bound. But Enyeama was his equal, a diving save pushing it past the post.
A similar chance followed in the second half after a surging run from Tevez on the break. This time Messi's curling shot was just wide of the goal. It was one of those days in front of goal for the star striker. Another give and go (very reminiscent of his boss in 86) saw him toe-to-toe with Nigeria's numero uno once more but his shot was straight at the keeper and his account remained at zero. One of these days he is going to score a hatful. But after a few iffy opening games it was a pleasure to watch him parade his countless skills. Such poise and elegance.
Maradona agreed after the game: 'Football wouldn't be beautiful without seeing Messi touch the football.' His natural heir is warming up nicely.
How they lined up: Romero, Demichelis, Heinze, Samuel, Di Maria (Burdisso, 85), Veron (Maxi, 74), Mascherano (Captain), Gutierrez (Yellow card), Higuain (Milito, 79), Messi, Tevez