Argentina swat 10-man Germany

AFP, FRANKFURT, Germany

Fri, Aug 17, 2012 - Page 18

Argentina, whose World Cup ambitions died in a four-goal thumping at German hands two years ago in South Africa, turned the tables on Wednesday in winning a friendly international 3-1 in Frankfurt, despite missing a penalty.

Argentina coach Alejandro Sabello had revealed earlier on that he intended to get the best out of star man Lionel Messi by “talking to him as little as possible” — and the South American giants in general let their soccer do the talking as they handed out a lesson to Die Mannschaft.

The hosts ended up with 10 men and were struggling once they lost inexperienced goalkeeper Ron-Robert Zieler after he upended the onrushing Jose Sosa.

The Germans had earlier lost defender Mats Hummels to injury when he collided with Gonzalo Higuain midway through the opening period.

Zieler’s foul forced the Germans to take off midfielder Thomas Mueller and also send on 20-year-old rookie Marc-Andre ter Stegen of Borussia Moenchengladbach.

Ter Stegen took his place between the sticks — then promptly saved a poor Messi penalty.

First choice Manuel Neuer was unavailable after bruising his pelvis in Bayern Munich’s weekend German Super Cup win over Dortmund at the weekend.

Messi — who shattered Europe’s goalscoring records last season with 73 goals in total for Barcelona in 60 games to beat German Gerd Mueller’s mark of 67 set in 1972-1973 — would not be denied, however, and was at the heart of a fine win with the second goal in 52 minutes.

Messi’s effort all but wrapped things up after a curious opening goal saw Sami Khedira knock the ball over his own line for the opener in first-half injury time following Real Madrid teammate Angel Di Maria’s corner.

It was the last thing Khedira needed, as he had felt moved on Monday to answer right-wing critics as to why players of non-German origin often do not sing the national anthem.

The 25-year-old former Stuttgart man has a Tunisian father.

Another Real Madrid man, Higuain, was in the thick of the action as, having dusted himself down from his collision with Hummels, he set up Messi’s goal with a fine run and pullback from the byline, leaving the Barca wizard with a meat-and-drink finish from 15m.

Di Maria set the seal on the victory when he rifled home a left-footer from 30m with 11 minutes remaining

Di Maria promptly took his leave of the action as he was substituted by Porto Alegre’s Pablo Guinazu.

A late Benedict Hoewedes header restored a smidgen of German pride, but Joachim Loew’s side finished well beaten.

Sabella, who replaced sacked Sergio Batista a year ago following an uninspiring Copa America campaign on home soil, had promised to offer attacking soccer and the albiceleste were as good as his word, producing an entertaining evening at the Commerzbank Arena.

While Argentina celebrated a morale-boosting win, to add to their success in June in a friendly over Brazil, the Germans — despite the influx of new, young names such as Marco Reus — are still looking fully to get over their Euro 2012 semi-final loss to Italy.