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FIFA World Cup: Tevez brace takes Argentina through to face Germany

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carlos_tevez.jpgCarlos Tevez scored twice as Argentina comfortably beat Mexico 3-1 in a controversial FIFA World Cup second round encounter in Johannesburg on Sunday. The Manchester City striker's first goal was clearly offside as he headed home from close range much to the fury of the Mexicans who surrounded the Italian referee Roberto Rosetti and his assistant. At one point it looked as if the goal was to be ruled out as the incident was replayed on the huge screen inside the Soccer City stadium. But the goal stood and in truth the Mexicans never recovered. Gonzalo Higuain doubled the score in the first half following a defensive howler from Ricardo Osorio. Tevez scored his second after the break with a superb long range strike which left goalkeeper Oscar Perez helpless before Javier Hernandez scored an excellent consolation goal which was the least his team deserved. Argentina now take on Germany in a mouth watering quarter final encounter in Cape Town on Saturday after the European side dismantled England 4-1 earlier in the day.

Diego Maradona made wholesale changes to the side that featured against Greece in the final group with Angel di Maria, captain Javier Mascherano and Gonzalo Higuain amongst those recalled to the starting eleven. Senior statesman Juan Veron was left on the bench in favour of Liverpool winger Maxi Rodriguez, who was once again employed in a central role in midfield. Nicolas Burdisso continued to line-up alongside Martin Demichelis at the heart of defence, with Walter Samuel still nursing an injury.

Mexico boss Javier Aguirre started with a very young forward line for this game, opting for pace rather than experience with veterans Franco and Blanco relegated to the subs bench. Javier Hernandez joined Giovani dos Santos as part of the attacking arsenal, while veteran Adolfo Bautista made a rare start.

The answer to that question was not going to be revealed in the early scrappy exchanges as both sides only enjoyed sporadic periods of possession. But then the game exploded into life on 10 minutes following a thunderous long range shot from Mexican left-back Carlos Salcido which nearly embarrassed Argentine keeper Romero, who pushed it onto the crossbar. The Mexicans stayed on the money as Dos Santos set-up Andres Guardado for a first time effort which went narrowly wide. Argentina's threat seemed to come solely through the magic and trickery of Messi who once again looked in the mood every time he got the ball. But despite his good work, keeper Oscar Perez was largely untroubled.

In fact it was the Mexicans who were impressing with their solid approach play with Dos Santos once again the architect as he played a delightful chipped ball through to striker Hernandez, but his ambitious effort went comfortably wide. On 25 minutes Argentina took an unexpected lead with a goal that should never have stood. Once again Messi was at the heart of it as he played Carlos Tevez through, only for Mexican keeper Perez to just get in ahead of him. The ball made its way back to Messi his chip whose goalbound effort was headed home by Tevez, but from an offside position. Cue shambolic scenes as the goal was given despite fierce protests by the Mexicans who surrounded the officials. Referee Roberto Rosetti conferred with his assistant as the incident was replayed inside the stadium and at one moment it looked as if the officials were going to reverse their decision. But the goal stood and the game seemed to change at that moment with the Mexicans now flying into tackles with retribution firmly on their minds.

The sense of injustice for the Mexicans was palpable but they just could not recover from that hammer blow and quickly conceded a horror second goal with a defensive blunder which would embarrass a school boy. Ricardo Osorio played a horrendous loose ball across the defence without looking, allowing Higuain an opportunity to pounce, and he needed no second invitation, rounding the keeper and sliding home. From a bright opening to the game the Mexicans were now two down through a combination of awful refereeing and comical defending. On the stroke of half time an unmarked Higuain had the chance to finish the game as a contest but he somehow contrived to miss with his header when it was easier to score. The Mexicans should have also scored before the interval after left-back Carlos Salcido's cross narrowly eluded Hernandez. As the maligned referee Rosetti brought the half to a close there was more controversy as players from both sides squared up to each other as they left the pitch. This time coach Maradona, who in his playing days would have been right in the middle of things as chief instigator, seemed to play peace maker as he separated the quarrelling players.

After the break the match resumed much in the same way the first half started with the Mexicans pushing the Argentine defence back and as a result highlighting the inadequacies which a more ruthless team would have exploited. But when Maradona has a devastating forward line which can kill you in an instant who needs to worry about things like ‘defending' ? If Tevez' first goal was unjust, his second was simply breathtaking. The Manchester City striker strode towards the Mexican backline, and after failing to find a pass, unleashed a thunderous shot which arrowed into the top corner leaving keeper Perez helpless.

There was to be finally some good news for Sergio Aguirre in the 71st minute, which would have also had Manchester United fans licking their lips in anticipation. Young Javi Hernandez brought some respectability to the scoreline after muscling his way into the box and powering his shot past Romero. It was the least the Mexicans deserved for their play and they continued to hunt for the second goal which would have made the remaining few minutes panicky for the South Americans

But it did not come and the Mexicans once again depart the World Cup in the second round - their fifth time in succession, although they can take credit for successfully negotiating a tough group which contained hosts South Africa, France and Uruguay. For Maradona and company, Germany await and they will surely be severely tested by the European side who have been a revelation with their attacking and expansive play. And for Messi another blank....but again that does not tell the whole story as he deserved a goal from another good, if not spell binding, performance.

The Teams:

Argentina: Romero (GK), Otamendi, Demichelis, Burdisso, Heinze, Mascherano, Maxi Rodriguez (Pastore, 87'), Di Maria (Gutierrez, 79'), Messi, Tevez (Veron, 69'), Higuain.

Mexico: Perez (GK), Juarez, Rodriguez, Marquez, Salcido, Osorio, Guardado (Franco 61') , Torrado, Bautista (Barrera 46'), Dos Santos, Hernandez.

Referee: Roberto Rosetti (Italy)

Scoreline: Argentina 3 - 1 Mexico
Argentina: Tevez 25', 52', Higuain 33'
Mexico: Hernandez 71'

Also Read:

Germany 4-1 England - Match Report

Brazil vs Chile - Match Preview

Photos by 2010 FIFA World Cup Organising Committee South Africa

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