World Cup post-game: Argentina 2, Greece 0
Argentina booked its place in the Round of 16 at the FIFA World Cup with a 2-0 win against Greece Tuesday in Polokwane, South Africa.
The victory allowed the South Americans to finish first in Group B while at the same time eliminating the Greeks. South Korea claimed the other second-round berth with a 2-2 draw against Nigeria.
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On June 22, 1986, Diego Maradona's Hand of God goal handed Argentina a famous World Cup victory. Exactly 24 years later, the Argentine manager could only watch from the sidelines, unable to exert his influence with another piece of cunning.
Argentina could have used El Diego on the field. Lionel Messi, touted as the new Maradona, had a pretty quiet night by his impeccably high standards, as did Sergio Aguero and Diego Milito, who could not unlock the Greek defence.
Try as they might, Argentina's awesome attacking stars were continually kept at arm's length, repelled by a Greek side that sat back and absorbed the pressure and then tried to hit out on the counterattack.
It took a defender, Martin Demichelis, to rise to the occasion on Argentina's behalf, solving the staunch Greek defence by scoring with 13 minutes left in regulation.
What this result means
Argentina wins Group B with nine points and will play Group-A runner-up Mexico in the Round of 16 in a World Cup rematch from four years ago. Second-place South Korea (four points) meets Group A winner Uruguay in the second round.
Third-place Greece (three points) and winless Nigeria (one point) have been eliminated.
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Demichelis was in the right place at the right time, pouncing on a loose ball that deflected off of Milito and smashing it into the roof of the net from five yards out.
Demichelis's goal put the game beyond the reach of the ultra-defensive Greeks. Martin Palermo scored in injury time to seal the win for Argentina.
Man of the match
Goalkeeper Alexandros Tzorvas was brilliant between the posts, thwarting the likes of Juan Sebastian Veron, Lionel Messi and Sergio Aguero to keep Greece in the game.
The Greek perspective
"A well-deserved victory, no doubt about that. We wanted to avoid an early goal, we managed to do that, but of course Argentina has more class and that earned them the win." — coach Otto Rehhagel