Argentina 3 – Mexico 1

June 27, 2010 - Johannesburg, South Africa - epa02226872 Argentina's Carlos Tevez scores the 3-0 during the FIFA World Cup 2010 Round of 16 match between Argentina and Mexico at the Soccer City stadium outside Johannesburg, South Africa, 27 June 2010.
Maradona retreated only slightly from the offensively-minded 3-forward attack that got Argentina comfortably into the knockout round by dropping Messi a little further into the midfield as a withdrawn forward to make the formation resemble more of a 4-3-1-2. Mexico made an interesting tactical decision in starting the “mature” Adolfo Bautista (known as “Bofo”) alongside the young future Manchester United phenom Javier Hernandez. In previous games Hernandez had subbed in and been effective, and indeed he would shine today, but not enough to slow the tide of sky blue that would pour forth.

The game was refreshingly open and “edgy,” neither team giving an impression of negative (conservative) play. The first taste of steel came from Mexican left back Salcido, who sent a cannon shot from way out that beat keeper Romero, but not the immovable cross bar. Salcido would prove dangerous from distance throughout the game—perhaps he snuck into the Japanese training sessions and learned the secrets of mastering the jubilani.

But the momentum of South American good karma pervading this World Cup would prove beneficial to Argentina today. In a moment that Mexican fans are likely to rue for years to come, Messi found a ball that Mexican keeper Perez was unable to clear on a challenge from Tevez and sent it back to Tevez, who was waiting (yes, in an offside position) to head it into the net. It’s not the first wrong call this cup, and we won’t harp on it here. You win some, you lose some, right?

Rattled by the poor officiating, Mexico remained angry and vulnerable, and just 8 minutes later Argentina pounced on a defensive error to go up 2. Defender Rodriguez lost control of the ball just yards from his own net, and Higuain scooped it up, duped the keeper Perez and slotted it in.

Tempers were still flaring at half, and an MLB-style bench-clearing brawl seemed to take place as players were heading back to the lockers. Depending on your TV coverage, however, you probably didn’t catch much of it. No cards were issued, so I guess we’ll let bygones be bygones.

In the second half, Mexico boss Aguirre gave up on his Bautista experiment and went with the young Barrera, and eventually added Argentine-born Franco, perhaps hoping he could help translate the Argentine’s strange brand of Spanish. Mexico did seem to show some spark, but in the 52nd Tevez decided to clear up any doubt about the first goal and send an unstoppable lazer-like screamer past Perez into the upper-ninety.

Young Mexican strikers Hernandez and Barrera showed creativity and initiative, and it was clear why European clubs have raised their eyebrows at both. In the 71st they finally cracked what had been Argentina’s best defensive performance of the tournament. Hernandez got a nicely slotted ball just inside the box and buried it right over the head of Romero “a la Donovan,” or maybe better said, “a la Gyan.”

Was Mexico cheated with a badly allowed goal? Absolutely. Did Argentina earn the win, and the right to move on to the quarterfinals? Without a doubt. In the end, the missed call was a tragic glitch, but not a deciding factor in a clear Argentine victory. Set your sights on Argentina vs. Germany next Saturday. It’s sure to be a doozy.

One Comments Post a Comment
  1. Blake Owen says:

    I think Mexico did a great job controlling Messi.

    Marquez and Torrado both sat in front of the two center backs and were obviously told not to let Messi get behind them.

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