Argentina 3-0 Venezuela
22 March 2013
World Cup Qualifier
El Monumental, Buenos Aires
Scorers: Higuaín (2), Messi (pen)
Unofficial Football World Champions Argentina continued their formidable unbeaten run as they swept aside Venezuela. Gonzalo Higuaín and captain Lionel Messi were again the star men for the Albiceleste, who now look certain to qualify for the 2014 World Cup.
This was matchday 11 of the CONMEBOL World Cup qualification tournament. As you would imagine, football tickets were snapped up quickly for this one, and Buenos Aires’ El Monumental was packed with supporters looking forward to seeing Argentina at home for the first time in 2013.
Lionel Messi Poster, Buenos Aires by Adam Jones / Flickr
Alejandro Sabella’s Argentina lined up with a front three of Higuaín, Messi and Ezequiel Lavezzi, with Walter Montillo in for the suspended Angel Di Maria in midfield. The four men combined well in the early stages of the game, and Messi forced Venezuela goalkeeper Dani Hernandez into a couple of smart saves.
The breakthrough came just before the half-hour mark, when Montillo fed Messi, who slipped a brilliant first-time ball into the penalty area, and the on-rushing Higuaín fired a right-foot shot into the back of the net.
Argentina’s second goal had an element of good fortune about it, but it was created by a brilliant run from Messi, who surged from the half-way line into the Venezuela penalty area. Defender Gabriel Cichero made a challenge, and as the ball bounced up in the air, he attempted to flick it away with his shoulder. The referee immediately awarded a penalty. There was only one man who was going to take the kick. Messi, still puffing from the exertion of his run, whacked a brilliant shot into the top left corner of the goal. It was 2-0 to Argentina at half-time.
Thirteen minutes into the second half, the game was effectively over. Another surging run and forward pass from Messi found Higuaín, who poked the ball past Hernandez to score his ninth goal of the qualifying tournament. Barcelona’s Messi and Real Madrid’s Higuaín embraced in celebration. Theirs is a devastating partnership for Argentina.
Venezuela created little, and supposed star men Juan Arango and José Salomón Rondón were both substituted. Having themselves looked on course to qualify for the World Cup, Venezuela now face a battle to be in Brazil in 2014.
The next UFWC title match comes around really quickly. It’s another World Cup qualifier, with Argentina travelling to Bolivia this Tuesday, 26 March. Bolivia have decent UFWC form, and have won five previous title matches, although never since 1994. They’ve also been on the end of one of the biggest-ever UFWC defeats, losing 8-1 to Brazil in 1953. The previous World Cup Qualifier between Argentina and Bolivia – played in Buenos Aires in November 2011, ended as a 1-1 draw.
The match will be played at the Estadio Hernando Siles in La Paz, and kick off on Tuesday is 16:00 local time (20:00 GMT). You can watch a free and legal live stream of Bolivia vs Argentina via our friends at Bet365. You’ll need to create an account if you don’t already have one, but you don’t need to make a bet. If you do open an account and decide to make a deposit of £10 or more, you’ll be entitled to up to £200 in free bets. Just click on the link below.