DOHA - Lionel Messi left it very late to
once again show his match-winning qualities with a superb goal
two minutes into added-time to give Argentina a 1-0 win over
arch-rivals Brazil in friendly on Wednesday.
The Barcelona forward played a one-two in the middle of the
pitch with substitute Ezequiel Lavezzi and raced through the
Brazil defence cutting across to the left to send a low,
diagonal, left-footed shot past the diving Victor into the
bottom far corner.
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"I really wanted to beat them and I was able to it. I'd
never done it with the senior (Argentina) team," said Messi, who
was playing against Brazil for the fourth time.
"It's an important win to keep improving and that's always
easier when the results go your way," he told Argentine
television in Doha.
The match at Qatar's Khalifa International stadium, in which
Ronaldinho made a promising Brazil comeback, was a first victory
for Argentina over their great South American rivals in six
meetings since 2005.
"The two teams went forward. But at the end of the game we
suffered the goal sadly. Messi is an excellent player, who
settled the match in a moment we lost concentration," Brazil
captain Robinho told Brazilian TV.
Ronaldinho, overlooked for the 2010 World Cup finals, might
have scored with a cheeky backheel in the first half but
Argentina goalkeeper Sergio Romero was alert and saved.
"The balance of Ronaldinho's performance is good... His
choices as the player creating moves were good," Brazil coach
Mano Menezes said.
Messi's goal was the first conceded by the new Brazil side
coached by Menezes, who had won their three previous friendlies.
Sergio Batista was making his debut as Argentina coach after
friendly wins over Ireland and world champions Spain and a
defeat away to Japan in an interim capacity.
Brazil had more of the ball in the first half, spent more
time in their opponents' half and created more chances.
Argentina, with a greater number of experienced
internationals in their side, evened the exchanges in the second
half as they pushed further up in midfield.
The Brazilians, quick in the build-up, used the width of the
pitch well to stretch the Argentine defence in which Nicolas
Pareja was winning a second cap as partner to Nicolas Burdisso.
Argentina played a tighter game looking for trademark short
one-twos in their build-ups. Lavezzi came on for Gonzalo Higuain
in the second half and Argentina gained width up front.
Right-back Javier Zanetti, extending his Argentine record to
138 caps, cut inside in Argentina's first telling counter-attack
to shoot left-footed with Victor saving.
Brazil right-back Daniel Alves later hit the bar with a shot
inside the box after a one-two with fellow defender David Luiz.
Minutes later, Romero went down to save Ronaldinho's
backheel. He also punched away a dangerous free-kick from
Near the end of the first half, Messi started a move in
midfield that went down the right before he picked up the ball
again near the edge of the box to unleash a shot that shaved the
top of Victor's right-hand post.
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