BUENOS AIRES - Carlos Tevez laid on two
goals and scored a third as Argentina beat world champions Spain
4-1 in a friendly at the Monumental on Tuesday.
Argentina, rebuilding after World Cup coach Diego Maradona
was let go, scored two early goals in the space of three
Lionel Messi, appearing marginally offside, chipped
brilliantly over Pepe Reina from a through ball by Carlos Tevez,
who minutes earlier shot just wide in Argentina's first attack.
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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
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
Fernando Llorente pulled one back from fellow substitute
Pedro's square ball into the middle of the box with six minutes
remaining before Serio Aguero headed a stoppage-time fourth for
"Argentina played very well, we have to recognise that,"
Spain coach Vicente del Bosque told a news conference.
"It's beneficial to the squad to know how to play the weak
teams like Liechtenstein and also the big ones."
"I think Argentina had a lot of merit in preventing (the
crowd) from seeing the Spain we saw in the World Cup," his
oppositite number Batista said.
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
They came more into their own towards the end of the first
When the score was still 2-0, a David Villa free kick hit
the angle of post and bar and Argentina had another narrow
escape five minutes before the interval.
Again Villa, looking to equal Raul's Spanish record of 44
goals, took a free kick aimed to Sergio Romero's left.
took a slight deflection on Javier Mascherano at the edge of the
wall and beat the diving Romero but hit the post. Gabriel Heinze
then blocked Silva's effort from the rebound.
Spain, having made a number of halftime substitutions,
almost pulled one back early in the second half when Fernando
Llorente headed wide from Jesus Navas's right cross.
Argentina, crushed 4-0 by Germany in the World Cup
quarter-finals, benefited from the return of Esteban Cambiasso
in midfield although the success story in that department was
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.
Messi showed where his importance to Argentina lies just
past the hour, having been quiet since the resumption. He weaved
his way through the defence from the right to pass to the left
where substitute Angel Di Maria scored, but the goal was ruled
out for offside.
"He's finally won over the crowd, that's good for the image
he gives of us in the world," said defender Martin Demichelis
referring to criticism at home that Messi does not play as well
for Argentina as Barcelona.
From another Spain free-kick Santi Cazorla had a shot tipped
onto the bar by Romero, one of several chances that went begging
for Spain who dominated possession in the second half.
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