Friday, March 22, 2013

Argentina 3 - Venezuela 0

Buenos Aires had a pro-Argentina crowd in store for visiting Venezuela.  Venezuela goalkeeper Daniel Hernandez was put to the test early and often.  He made a great double save on Lionel Messi (pictured, white) and Pablo Zabaleta as La Vinotinto held Argentina at bay for the first half hour.  Venezuela left back Gabriel Cichero made a last second tackle on Ezequiel Lavezzi to protect Hernandez's goal, and he was followed later by his center back Oswaldo Vizcarrondo, who saved an open net with a sliding block on Gonzalo Higuain.  However, one minute later Higuain was through on a nutmeg pass from Messi and the tap in gave Argentina a 1-0 lead.  A Marcos Rojo cross nearly was put on frame by a lengthy Messi volley.  Two minutes from the end of the half, Cichero committed a needless handball offense within his own penalty area, leading to a penalty which was converted for a 2-0 halftime lead to Argentina.

In the second period, Venezuela very much could feel hard done.  A Messi through ball to a clearly offside Higuain led to a third goal before the hour mark, and Argentina were coasting at 3-0.  Venezuela substitute Romulo Otero began to shake up the Argentine defense as they now faced three forwards.  Four minutes after the offside goal, Venezuela forward Salomon Rondon took two Argentina defenders wide left before laying off a through ball to Otero, which he just skied over the crossbar.  With less than ten minutes to go, another Rondon lay off to Otero nearly led to a goal, but Sergio Romero in goal for Argentina made a solid save.  Argentina win 3-0 and look likely to be the first South American side to qualify for Brasil 2014 after the host country.

Gonzalo Higuain 29, 59
Lionel Messi 43 PK

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