On a terrible pitch, Argentina played poorly on Saturday but took three points all the same from a Colombian side who pressured them all the way and made them work hard for the points. Getafe defender Daniel ‘Cata‘ Díaz made the breakthrough in the eleventh minute of the second half. It wasn’t a pretty performance, but it puts Argentina a massive step closer to South Africa.
Prior to Díaz’s intervention, from a corner, Argentina’s only shot had been a Lionel Messi free kick which hit the crossbar. After the morale-sapping 6-1 defeat in Bolivia and with the state of the pitch at El Monumental (something which was all over the Argentine media before the match, but which they seem to have forgotten about in their eagerness to show dissatisfaction with the performance), claiming the three points was always the main priority over any need for good football, and eventually they came.
With Sergio Agüero hobbling off injured after 40 minutes, Diego Milito had his chance to demonstrate to Maradona that a ‘number 9’ in the penalty box was what was missing from Argentina’s attack when the game had started, but he didn’t grasp it. Not seeing much of the ball, when he did he tended to hold on a little too long. Carlos Tevez was much more impressive, working like a Shire horse (non-Brits look it up), making some great runs and pressuring the visiting defence – it was Tevez who forced the corner from which Díaz scored.
Mariano Andújar’s debut for the selección in goal went well – he showed good composure and didn’t put a foot (or a hand) wrong all match. If his understudy Juan Pablo Carrizo gets a bit more playing time – and learns to keep his mouth shut – in 2009-2010, Argentina might actually have a choice of two very good goalkeepers next year. That at least must be a bright spot.
Overall, though, it was a match to forget, even if the three points that resulted from it will be crucial in pushing Argentina towards World Cup qualification for 2010. With Uruguay losing 4-0 to Brazil in Montevideo, Argentina are now five points ahead of fifth place, with fifteen still to play for. South Africa draws closer.
There follows a highlights video which Mauro Tinelli almost certainly wouldn’t be happy to see on YouTube, regardless of the username of the uploader.
World Cup South Africa 2010 qualifying, 6th June 2009: Argentina 1 – 0 Colombia