Argentina overcame a resilient El Salvador 2-0 in their international Friendly at a neutral venue, FedEx Field in Maryland, USA on Saturday. The World Cup finalists found that Andres Flores men had no intention of being walloped a heavy scoreline in the match as La Selecta protected their goalkeeper as if their lives depended on it. This however did not stop La Albiceleste from applying pressure and at one stage took 75% of the ball possession into half-time.
Gonzalo Higuain was the first to cause any threat when in the third minute of the game he rose higher than all in the box, only to see his header go wide. Two minutes later Carlos Alvarez was brought down inside the box, causing a reaction from the crowd but the ref did not make a call – while replays show that a penalty should have been awarded. Nelson Bonilla worked the wing well in the ninth minute, eventually sending in a cross, however his attempt found no one in the the box thus an opportunity was missed by Albert Roca’s men.
The next notable chance fell to Angel Di Maria, who in the 40th minute forced Andre Carrillo into a fine save from a free kick. From this point on, the game turned into a dull affair as no team posed any notable danger. This was reflected in the 0-0 half-time score.
Five minutes into the second half Higuain struck the ball from some 25 meters out. Unfortunately he saw his shot go wide from his intended target. A minute later Carlos Tevez also missed a chance as Gerardo Martino’s men continued to apply the pressure. In the 54th minute the Argentines took the lead through midfielder Ever Banega whose initial shot was deflected into the Salvadoran net.
The goal was credited as an old goal by Nestor Renderos. The game once again turned into a dull affair as Roca’s men waited for the two-time world champions to attack. They continued to intercept the South Americans’ advances at the most crucial times.
The moment of genius needed to crush El Salvador came in the 88th minute from substitute Mancuello, who came on for captain of the day Di Maria. The youngster struck a wonder free kick that would leave any free kick specialist envious. With this, Argentina secured themselves another international victory.
Photo: Argentina’s Gonzalo Higuain in action during the 2014 FIFA World Cup. Higuain featured for his country in the friendly against El Salvador.
Photo credit: AP Photo/Manu Fernandez