Jun 13, 2010
Argentina started their World Cup campaign in the best way possible with a 1-0 victory over a plucky skillful Nigerian side at Ellis Park Stadium in Johannesburg on Saturday.
A large crowd witnessed the mesmerising skills of Lionel Messi on display for Argentina and the little maestro could have had a hat-trick by half-time if luck had of been on his side.
In a very entertaining game both sides showed flashes of brilliance with play often going back and forward in exciting fashion.
Argentina are nicely poised now to get through to the next stage while Nigeria will need to get a win on the board in their next outing.
An exciting first 15 minutes with Argentina’s Messi displaying some mesmerising skills as the South Americans played some enterprising football that resulted in a smashing headed goal to an unmarked Gabriel Heinze in the box after 6 minutes.
The Nigerians took a while to settle down but their crisp passing and deft touch opened up the Argentinian defence at times with Obasi’s pace down the left causing plenty of concern.
Nigeria had a couple of chances to equalise but failed to take their opportunities while Messi was unlucky not to score a couple himself after some lovely play and exquisite shooting on goal.
Argentina controlled most of the game in the first half and they took advantage of critical Nigeria turnovers in the middle of the pitch but were not able to make the African side pay.
The Africans got better as they game wore on in the first-half and at half-time the score sees Argentina up by one goal to nil.
First half rating (Out of 5): Argentina 4.0 – Nigeria 3.5
Just like the first half Argentina came out running in the first 15 minutes and completely controlled play before Nigeria worked their way back into the game and both sides created plenty of chances to score and it was a fairly even second half.
Messi was denied multiple times by Nigerian goalie Enyeama and the little Argentine could easily have had 2 or three goals for the game.
Yakabu had a shot go over the bar for Nigeria before substitute Uchi should have scored around 80 minutes when all he had to do was get his shot online in the box but he too put it over the bar.
Nigeria were exciting on the break and they had clear chances to equalise but Argentina too could have been two or three goals up if not for Enyeama’s heroics in front of goal.
Quality football and Argentina run out deserved winners over a gallant Nigeria.
Second Half rating (Out of 5): Argentina 3.5 – Nigeria 3.5
Argentina 1 – 0 Nigeria
6m G. Heinze
41m J. Gutiérrez
77m L. Haruna
Argentina Starting 11
Sergio Romero, Jonas Gutiérrez, Walter Samuel, Martin Demichelis,Gabriel Heinze, Juan Veron, Javier Mascherano, Angel Di Maria, Lionel Messi, Carlos Tevez, Gonzalo Higuain
74m Maxi Rodriguez for Juan Veron
79m Diego Milito for Gonzalo Higuain
85m Nicolas Burdisso for Angel Di Maria
Nigeria Starting 11
Vincent Enyeama, Chidi Odiah, Joseph Yobo, Danny Shittu, Taye Taiwo, Lukman Haruna, Dickson Etuhu, Sani Kaita, Chinedu Obasi, Victor Obinna, Aiyegbeni Yakubu
52m Obafemi Martins for Victor Obinna
60m Peter Odemwingie for Chinedu Obasi
74m Kalu Uche for Taye Taiwo
Team Game Rating (out of 10): Argentina 7.5 - 7 Nigeria
Argentina were the better side in this match and they probably should have won by two or three goals. They were very organised down back and their efficiency going forward was good quality and was only lowered by their inability to convert a high number of genuine chances, most due to the outstanding skills of Messi.
Nigeria also played well but they had more of an unpredictable fluency about them where they were able to open up Argentina on the break and have them floundering on the odd occasion. Both sides will be better for the run and will only improve from here.
Positives: Teamed well together and ball movement was excellent at times creating many chances to score, especially when Messi was involved.
Area to Improve: Veron turned the ball over too much in critical areas and backline was exposed to genuine pace.
Where to now: Should have no problem beating Greece and will get a point or more with South Korea to ensure path to next round
Positives: Unpredictability makes them always dangerous going forward and their speed and skill will be a handful for sides.
Area to Improve: Will need to convert more chances going forward if they want to go further in this competition.
Where to now: Can only get better and played exciting football at times in this match. Should beat Greece easily and their match against South Korea will be critical as to whether they advance to the next round or not.
Filed Under: 2010 World Cup