The French city of Toulon is hosting a friendly Under 21 international tournament this month which Sergio Batista’s boys have travelled to, and on Wednesday they played their first match against the Netherlands, and demonstrated after the embarrassment of the Under 20s’ failure to qualify to defend their crown at the the Egypt 2009 World Youth Cup that there’s still hope for the future. Unfortunately the celebrations didn’t last long…
The squad returned to their hotel after the match to have the smiles abruptly wiped from their faces by the discovery that whilst they were playing, their hotel rooms had been broken into; computers and money were stolen. A source from the coaching staff told Olé that it seemed the robbers had chosen their targets: they broke into the rooms of players they knew might have valuables. San Lorenzo’s Alejandro Gómez lamented that his own room on his return looked like ‘Kosovo.’
On the pitch a few hours earlier, the team had impressed hugely. Gómez was one of the bigger names on show, along with River Plate’s Diego Buonanotte and Valencia’s former Boca Juniors midfielder Ever Banega, with the rest of the team largely made up of kids from the Under 17s and Under 20s. Right from the start, Argentina tore into their European opponents, with Banega orchestrating superbly throughout and Buonanotte adding the spark of unpredictability.
Arsenal de Sarandí forward Franco Jara opened the scoring early on, and for the rest of the half Argentina dominated both possession and chances, but they had to wait until after the break, and show some patience, before the goals really started to flow. The Dutch had chances, but all of them were placed as if deliberately straight at goalkeeper Agustín Marchesín. Sevilla youth Diego Perotti (signed by the Spanish club from Deportivo Morón in 2007) made it 2-0 with a centre that went in at the far post, and Banega scored the third from the penalty spot after Buonanotte had been brought down. The River forward himself made it 4-0 with the best of the lot, a smart dribble and a finish into the bottom corner.
TyC Sports have a video of the match online – they’ve just added a couple of features to their website to make it a little more ‘blogger friendly’ so this link should work (though it’ll take a while to buffer).