Thursday, July 12, 2007

Argentina to play Brazil in Copa final

Sunday's Copa America final has a familiar look to it as Argentina dismissed Mexico 3-0 in the second semi-final to set up a meeting with old foes Brazil for the championship.
CONCACAF guests Mexico had threatened to trespass on the CONMEBOL showpiece event ever since they beat holders Brazil 2-0 in their opening match, and yesterday in Puerto Ordaz los tricolores began strongly, threatening the favourites with a number of thrusts through the middle in the first half.
But the Mexicans were guilty of over-elaboration when it came to shooting. Starlet Andres Guardado sold the Argentine defence a delightful dummy ten minutes before half time but delayed too long and only grazed the outside of the post when he finally let rip.
Carlos Tevez remained a lurking predator for Argentina, hugging the Mexican backline, and should have done better than drag shots wide of the woodwork when twice he broke clear before the break.
In the end it was a fullback, Gabriel Heinze, whom Tevez may be about to join at Manchester United, who opened the scoring, stretching airborne to stamp Juan Riquelme's floated set piece past Oswaldo Sanchez a minute short of half time.
Conceding a goal just before the break was a psychological blow to the Mexicans, but they were doubly wounded when Lionel Messi put Argentina two goals to the good with a spectacular strike just after the hour mark.
Collecting Tevez's lay off on the right hand corner of the box, the Barcelona attacker produced an impromptu wedge chip that looped over the surprised Sanchez into the net.
Four minutes later it was game over as Mexico skipper Rafael Marquez bodychecked a raiding Tevez and Riquelme chipped his penalty high and straight to make it 3-0.
Mexico coach and soccer legend Hugo Sanchez could be nothing other than magnanimous towards his conquerors:
"We tried our best," he admitted, "but we must say the opponents were superior. There's nothing left but to recognize just how good this Argentina team really is."
With Riquelme, Messi and Tevez in such hot form, the albiceleste surely have a golden chance of snatching the Copa crown from old enemies Brazil, who are without Adriano, Kaka and Ronaldinho, in Sunday's final.
Goals: Heinze 44, Messi 61, Riquelme (pen) 66
ARGENTINA: Abbondanzieri (Getafe), Zanetti (Inter), Ayala (Valencia), Milito (Real Zaragoza), Heinze (Man Utd), Mascherano (Liverpool), Cambiasso (Inter), Veron (Estudiantes), Riquelme (Villareal), Messi (Barcelona), Tevez (West Ham)
Subs used: Gaggo (Real Madrid), Palacio (Boca Juniors), Aimar (Real Zaragoza) ; Coach: Alfio Basile
MEXICO: Sanchez (Santos Laguna), Castro (Pumas), Marquez (Barcelona), Magallon (Chivas), Pinto (Pachuca), Arce (Morelia), Torrado (Cruz Azul), Correa (Pachuco), Guardado (Deportivo La Coruna), Castillo (Olimpiakos), Cacho (Pachuca).
Subs used: Medina (Chivas), Pineda (Chivas), Bravo (Chivas); Coach: Hugo Sanchez
(c) Sean O'Conor & Soccerphile.

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