KOLKATA - Nicolas Otamendi headed the only
goal as Alejandro Sabella kicked off his reign as Argentina
coach with a 1-0 win over Venezuela in a friendly in India on
Captain Lionel Messi curled in a corner in the 67th minute
and Otamendi, unmarked at the near post, nodded the ball down
and into the net before rushing off to lift the Barcelona
Messi orchestrated most of the attacks but Argentina found
it tough to beat Venezuela keeper Rafael Romo at the Yuba
Romo made several saves including one brilliant effort to
foil Messi that led to the 67th-minute corner.
Javier Pastore could have made it 2-0 after Romo collided
with Gonzalo Higuain but the substitute blasted the ball over an
Earlier, Venezuela created the first real chance of the game
only to see Jose Rondon squander his opportunity.
Rondon's team mounted several attacks in the first half
without having a single shot on target.
Messi showed off his dribbling skills when he evaded three
challenges to set up Angel di Maria inside the box but the Real
Madrid player shot wide.
Argentine Messi later beat two defenders in the box before
unleashing a tame shot that Romo had no problem gathering.
Sabella took over as coach after Sergio Batista failed to
guide the former world champions beyond the quarter-finals of
the Copa America in July.
Kolkata is renowned for its football passion and a local derby
featuring East Bengal and Mohun Bagan often draws a crowd in
excess of 100,000.
The former capital of British India has previously hosted
greats like Pele and Diego Maradona but this is the first time
the eastern city has hosted such a high-profile match.
The game was staged by a local event management company.
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