A brace from Xabi Alonso proves too much for Argentina, as they suffer a defeat at the hands of the European Kings in Madrid.
The scene was set, two of the worlds biggest teams were set to clash. The 54,851 seater Vicente Calderón Stadium the venue. Maradona’s men were under pressure, this coming after a disappointing qualification campaign – qualifying at the last hurdle with a 1-0 win over Uruguay. Diego Maradona, also under fire from FIFA after the inpromptu outburst to the media following their qualification to South Africa. Early on Spain threatened, showing Argentina their intentions. A one touch passing move, engineered beautifully was slid in for Xavi, only for him to scupper the chance. Argentina didn’t show much ambition in the opening stages of the game and on the 16 minute mark, a wonderfully crafted move from Valencia’s David Silva, skipping past Demichelas to fire on goal which was saved well, unfortunately for Romero and Argentina, Alonso pounced on the rebound to poke the ball home and send the Spaniards into raptures.
It was a very dominant half for Spain, Andres Iniesta denied by Romero and David Villa’s rebound being cleared of the line by Fabricio Coloccini. The referee waved away protests, the Spanish claiming handball. For Argentina, the chances were very few and far between. Fernando Gago’s through ball to Benfica youngster Angel Di Maria, proving to be one of the only opportunities of the game was wasted as he tried to lob Iker Casillas, all to no avail.
At half time, strong words must have emanated from the mouth of Diego Maradona as Argentina came out fighting. The Argentines had the earlier of the chances, not going down without a fight. Raul Albiol gave possession up near the touchline, being robbed by Maxi Rodriguez.
As the Madrid man tried winning possession back, he brought Rodriguez down in the area leading to an Argentina penalty. Step up Lionel Messi, converted beautifully, sending Casillas the wrong way. That was Messi’s 13th goal in 41 appearances for Argentina.