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Captain Messi leads perfect Argentina
by Paul Kennedy, June 23rd, 2010 2:33AM

TAGS:  argentina, greece, world cup


[GROUP B] Argentina completed a sweep of its Group B games -- only its third ever three-game sweep in group play -- with a 2-0 win over Greece, while South Korea joined Argentina in the round of 16 with a 2-2 tie against Nigeria in a nail-biter. Here's what we liked and didn't like from Tuesday's Group B action ...

What we liked ...

-- Coach Diego Maradona could have rested star Lionel Messi like he did many of his starters for Argentina's final Group B match against Greece. But he not only started Messi but made him captain for the first time. And while Messi again didn't score, he helped set up the second goal in Argentina's 2-0 win when Greek goalie Alexandros Tzorvas could only parry his shot, allowing 36-year-old Martin Palermo to score.

-- Argentina's three wins marked only the third time it has ever completed the group stage with a 3-0 record. The other times came at the first World Cup in Uruguay in 1930 and at the 1998 World Cup in France. On the two occasions it won the World Cup, it lost to Italy at home in 1978 and tied the Azzurri in Mexico in 1986.

-- South Korea advanced to the knockout phase for only the second time when it held Nigeria to a 2-2 tie. After falling behind to Nigeria, the Koreans blitzed the Super Eagles with a pair of goals on either side of halftime. In Park Ji-sung, Lee Chung-Yong and Park Chu-Young, the Koreans have one of the most exciting trios in the tournament and it will test the Uruguay defense in the round of 16.

What we didn't like ...

-- True to form, Greece held out for a tie against Argentina and hoped that Nigeria would beat South Korea. For 26 minutes, that plan was working, but once South Korea tied and went ahead against Nigeria, the Greeks had to attack. The inevitable came in the last quarter of an hour as the Argentines scored twice to eliminate Greece.

-- Yakubu Ayegbeni will rue the easiest of sitters he missed in the second half of Nigeria's game against South Korea. Hopefully, the chances Yakubu and Olefani Martins missed will mean that Nigerian fans will ease up on Sani Kaita, who has reportedly received hundreds of death threats after receiving a red card in Nigeria's 2-1 loss to Greece. If Yakubu or Martins converted one of the chances, Kaita would have been off the hook.

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