Messi leads the way as Argies cruise


DIEGO MARADONA saw his Argentina side sail through Group B with a 100 per cent record as they finally broke down strong Greek resistance to end their World Cup hopes in Polokwane.

The much-fancied Argentines took 77 minutes to break the deadlock when Bayern Munich defender Martin Demichelis fired home from close range after Lionel Messi’s corner had ricocheted off Diego Milito.

And victory was sealed a minute from time when Boca Juniors hitman Martin Palermo upstaged his higher-profile fellow striker team-mates to tap home from close range.

The result means Maradona’s men now take on Mexico in the last-16 in Johannesburg on Sunday night.

Greece went into the game knowing that even a narrow defeat against Argentina might
have been enough for them to progress and, like they did on their way to winning Euro 2004, set out a defensive stall.

But at the same time, they never looked like threatening at the other end with Celtic’s Georgios Samaras a lone figure up front.

Led by stand-in captain Messi, Argentina were frustrated from the off with both Sergio Aguero and Juan Sebastian Veron denied early on.

Samaras squandered Greece’s best chance at the start of the second half, sparking the Argentines into life and it was no surprise when Demichelis lashed home the opener after the Greeks failed to deal with a corner.

Still Greece didn’t threaten and after Messi struck a post following a mesmeric run, Palermo wrapped it up after his captain’s shot was kept out by keeper Alexandros Tzorvas.