Di María’s actually not-all-that-contentious goal gives Argentina victory

'Stop laughing, you idiot! They'll twig something was wrong...'

Although I am leaving this article unedited, I’ve updated the title and am putting this notice in to explain that I’m a massive idiot who’d totally forgotten – like Shay Given – that there’s no offside played from goal kicks. Thanks to Pegamequemegusta for reminding me in the comments…

Ángel Di María scored the most important goal of Sergio Batista’s reign as Argentina’s youth team manager – the winner in the Olympic Football Tournament final in Beijing 2008 – and today he scored the first goal of Batista’s spell as caretaker manager of the full national side. As a result, Argentina beat the Republic of Ireland 1-0 in the inaugural match at the new-look Lansdowne Road. It was a good finish, somewhat tarnished by the fact that Gonzalo Higuaín, immediately before setting it up, had been approximately the length of the pitch offside. All the same Argentina’s first half showing was good – the second, less so.

Batista afterwards remarked that ‘the first half was worth eight out of ten,’ which might have been overdoing it a bit, but it was a far more balanced and assured performance than the disastrous one which saw Argentina thrashed by Germany in the quarter-finals of the World Cup. With Ever Banega quietly impressive and Fernando Gago… well… I’m sure he was doing something alongside Javier Mascherano in central defence, the midfield was more disciplined for one thing. Lionel Messi has had a mixed pre-season with Barcelona, playing only halves of matches and, according to the club doctor, he’s not at optimum condition yet. He wasn’t spectacular today, but showed enough of his talent that the crowd at the brand new stadium rose to their feet to applaud him from the pitch when he was replaced with Ezequiel Lavezzi in the second half.

When Higuaín took down goalkeeper Sergio Romero’s long punt forward and flicked it on for Di María to finish brilliantly, lobbing Shay Given and watching the ball bounce in off the far post, the Manchester City goalkeeper was furious. Replays (eventually) showed why – Higuaín had been offside to an almost comical degree, and the linesman somehow failed to spot it. Although Argentina had plenty of good spells with the ball, and the performance was more than acceptable given that they’re only just starting a semi-major rebuilding project following Diego Maradona’s exit as manager, the Republic of Ireland did have a number of chances to score themselves, not least with a couple of corners in quick succession right at the death. Martín Demichelis looked less nervous than during the World Cup, but does Fabricio Coloccini really merit playing time for Sergio Batista’s national side?

Argentina did at least finish with two natural full backs on the pitch – Pablo Zabaleta replacing starter Nicolás Burdisso at right back, and Emiliano Insúa replacing Gabriel Heinze on the left. That’s one step forward, as was Di María’s greatly improved (if still not massively spectacular) performance compared with his World Cup ones. One notable point, given events in the run-up to the game: Carlos Tevez didn’t feature at all. Whether he’s going to be cast out of the selección now after criticising Julio Grondona yesterday remains to be seen. But at least the team have a morale-boosting win under their belts in the post Diego era.

International friendly, 11th August 2010: Republic of Ireland 0 – 1 Argentina (with apologies for the Portuguese commentary – it’s the only video I can find with a decent picture)

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Photo taken from ole.clarin.com

14 thoughts on “Di María’s actually not-all-that-contentious goal gives Argentina victory

  1. You can’t be offside from a goal kick (neither I nor Shay Given knew either).

    Man City’s doctors say Tevez has a ‘fever’. He was never expected to play. Indeed, it seems he only showed up to mouth off. As he showed over and over again with Argentina, and especially in Cape Town, he feels rage is superior to cooly plotting the downfall of the opposition, in this case the AFA. I doubt if don Julio will even bother waving his forked tail at this particular pest.

    Coloccini does not have any place in the squad. It’s a shame el Checho didn’t pick it himself or we might have seen Nico Pareja and Garay.

  2. A friendly at this point is such a meaningless affair as to warrant almost no analysis at all. Having said that, I agree with the comments on Coloccini. I also could’ve done without Gago, Demichelis and Heinze. You’re right Sam, it’s good to see Zabaleta and Insúa at fullback, let’s hope there’s more of that coming from Checho. And Banega in midfield, it’s about time.

  3. I was at the game, DiMario looked a little offside in the stands which was confirmed on the TV replays, not from the goal kick but from the flick on. No big deal apart from it bieng Irelands first game in our fantastic new Stadium and Robbie Keane’s 100th cap. Fair play to Argentina for putting out their stars, especially Messi who is even better seen live than on the TV. Ireland couldn’t get a kick in the first half as Argentina passed us to death, but we got into it a bit more in the 2nd half. Disappointing game overall but what can you expect from friendlies?

    1. That’s right Eamonn, he was perhaps half a yard off in the end, but it was a far more understandable one for the linesman to miss than the one I had initially thought he missed!

      Friendlies are always pants, I agree. I didn’t even mind that this one clashed with the England game in the end. If they’d been competitive it would have been far more annoying.

  4. Frankly, Sam,
    and if you try some other thing in internet?
    A blog about cooking, for example, or pet care?
    You may also blame the governmet, or criticize our economic politic but at least the facts and figures you publish will have less chance of being wrong, they’re more easily handle…

  5. Sam playing Argentina in a competitive match is the stuff of dreams. We were one game away in Italia 90, only for Scillachi to put Italy through. We’d have given Argentina a good game back then actually, wonder what Maradona would have made of the “anti-football” of the Jack Charlton era? :-)
    Thanks for this great blog, you’ve got me hooked on the Argentine league, watched Banfield v Olympia last weekend on the internet. Now if only I could understand the commentators.

  6. Oh I know what you mean, yes – I was just responding to the final sentence of your previous post! If both England and Argentina were playing a qualifier at the same time, for instance, I’d be torn on which to watch (if I was unable to find a place where both were available of course). But where friendlies are concerned, it’s less tricky, since Argentina is my job. I know I won’t be missing much by not watching an England friendly. Of course, you could say the same thing about England’s competitive matches recently, too…

  7. I know what you mean there, if Ireland are the Bolton Wanderers of International Football, Argentina would maybe be Arsenal and England would have to be Newcastle United, the great under achievers. I follow United and get over to see them home and away a few times a year. Not looking forward to next Monday evening when they open the season v ~ManU~

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