Argentina stun world champs

Argentina stun world champs

Argentina, rebuilding after World Cup coach Diego Maradona was let go, scored two early goals in the space of three minutes. Lionel Messi, appearing marginally offside, chipped brilliantly over Pepe Reina from a through ball by Tevez, who minutes earlier shot just wide in Argentina's first attack.

Gonzalo Higuain scored the second from a narrow angle after being put through by Tevez, again justifying coach Sergio Batista's decision to field him in a three-man strike force, and rounding Reina. The goalkeeper was at fault with the third just past the half hour. He slipped going to kick a back pass by Alvaro Arbeloa and the busy Tevez was rewarded for a trademark chase by just beating Reina to the ball to scoop it in close to the near post.

Fernando Llorente pulled one back from fellow substitute Pedro's square ball into the middle of the box with six minutes remaining before Sergio Aguero headed a stoppage-time fourth for Argentina. “Argentina played very well, we have to recognise that,” Spain coach Vicente del Bosque said. “It's beneficial to the squad to know how to play the weak teams like Liechtenstein and also the big ones.”

His oppositite number Batista said, “I think Argentina had a lot of merit in preventing (the crowd) from seeing the Spain we saw in the World Cup.”

Spain, who started with three second-string players in the back four, were not allowed to settle comfortably into the close passing game that helped them win the World Cup in South Africa in July. Argentina, crushed 4-0 by Germany in the World Cup quarterfinals, benefited from the return of Esteban Cambiasso in midfield, although the success story in that department was Ever Banegas.

Banegas, who like Cambiasso missed the World Cup, was everywhere in midfield, supplying the forwards after helping Mascherano with the ball-winning for a team that did not need to depend excessively on Messi.

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