Despite holding arguably the world’s best player, Lionel Messi, at bay, T&T’s Soca Warriors left the Estadio Monumental Vespucio Liberti, Buenos Aires, with a 3-0 loss against an unspectacular Argentina, last night.
Rodrigo Palacio opened for the home team in the final play of the first half, before Javier Mascherano and Maxi Rodriguez completed the easy win with a pair of scrappy second half goals for Argentina, which is deep into preparation for the this month’s Fifa World Cup.
The odds were always stacked against T&T, but the Warriors held their own both defensively and in attack, creating one third of the total corners, despite Argentina’s dominance in possession.
Playing in its first international for the year, coach Stephen Hart’s players provided solid defensive play but was never able to settle in possession.
Even after being written off by many prior to kickoff, T&T did well to hold Argentina for 45 minutes, but succumbed to a headed goal by Palacio from a corner in first half injury time, moments before Messi mis-kicked an effort with just goal keeper Jan Michael Williams to beat.
It was one of several poor misses from Messi, who along with Ezequiel Lavezzi had a night to forget.
Williams was again beaten minutes after the restart from a close ranged effort by Mascherano, who connected with a ball, which came off the post from a Messi free-kick just outside the penalty area. T&T conceded the foul after Carlyle Mitchell body-checked the Barcelona ace in a yellow-card offense.
Argentina’s third goal, which came in the 64th minute, was as a result of T&T’s defense being beaten on the half-way mark. Palacio ran onto a clear pass through an open defence before he managed to pass it off for Rodriguez to finish.
Despite the possession being shared at a more even rate at that point, the momentum dropped with both teams seemingly satisfied with the final result.
T&T was not embarrassed and looked generally positive throughout against a team comprising players from the world’s top clubs.
The Soca Warriors will play its next friendly international against another team preparing for the World Cup, Iran, on Sunday, in Sao Paolo, Brasil.
Argentina 3 v Trinidad and Tobago 0
Argentina: - 1.Sergio Romero, 3.Hugo Armando Campagnaro, 15.Martín Demichelis (23.José María Basanta 46th), 16.Marcos Rojo, 17.Federico Fernández, 5.Fernando Gago (6.Lucas Biglia 46th), 7.Ángel Di María (8.Enzo Pérez 63rd - Yellow 72), 14.Javier Mascherano (19.Ricardo Álvarez Puig 70th), 10.Lionel Messi (capt), 18.Rodrigo Palacio (13.Augusto Fernandez 76th), 22.Ezequiel Lavezzi (11.Maxi Rodríguez 56th).
COACH: - Alejandro Sabella.
Trinidad and Tobago: - 21.Jan-Michael Williams, 2.Justin Hoyte, 4.Sheldon Bateau, 12.Yohance Marshall, 19.Carlyle Mitchell (Yellow 49) (17.Gavin Hoyte 71st), 3.Joevin Jones (13.Rundell Winchester 86th), 8.Khaleem Hyland (Yellow 37), 14.Andre Boucaud (Yellow 26) (5.Kevan George 71st), 23.Lester Peltier, 7.Ataullah Guerra (10.Kevin Molino 60th), 9.Kenwyne Jones (capt) (11.Willis Plaza 77th).
COACH: - Stephan Hart.
Venue: - Estadio Ciudad de La Plata.
Argentina v Trinidad and Tobago
17 (5) Shots (on goal) 6 (2)
12 Fouls 13
10 Corner kicks 5
4 Offsides 0
69% Time of Possession 31%
1 Yellow Cards 3
0 Red Cards 0
4 Saves 4
Attendance (APPROX): - 40,000.
ARGENTINA 3-0 T&T: - Goals and Highlights
T&T head coach, Stephen Hart, gives his reactions after a 3-0 defeat to Argentina
T&T Fans and Rhythm Section at Argentina vs T&T
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Argentina vs. Trinidad & Tobago: Score, Grades and Post-Match Reaction
By Jerrad Peters (World Football Staff).
Right from the opening kick-off the pattern of the match was established. The Albicelestes were going to control possession and look to complete ambitious pieces of buildup play while their island rivals looked to hit them on the break.
Messi, who missed a handful of chances, pulled his first shot just wide of the target after only 11 minutes, and nine minutes later he and Angel di Maria combined to set up Ezequiel Lavezzi, who couldn’t quite connect at the far post.
Di Maria, who was Argentina’s most encouraging player of the night, then chipped a delightful pass to Rodrigo Palacio, but the Inter Milan forward mistimed his run to the corner.
Trinidad and Tobago, meanwhile, might have scored twice if not for the wits of Hugo Armando Campagnaro and Martin Demichelis, the latter of whom raced back into his own end to poke the ball of Kenwyne Jones’ boot with only the goalkeeper for the Cardiff City striker to beat.
But from there it was all Argentina, and when Messi was denied by Yohance Marshall at point-blank range it seemed only a matter of time before they would open the scoring.
Finally, in the second minute of first-half stoppage time, Palacio turned in a corner kick and the two-time World Cup winners were on their way.
They doubled their advantage just six minutes after the restart.
Messi, who had lined up a free-kick from about 19 yards, hit the upright with his effort but watched as teammate Javier Mascherano, almost accidentally, deflected the rebound past Jan-Michael Williams.
At this point there was no doubt about the outcome, and in the 65th minute Palacio hunted down a long pass, rounded Williams, did well to keep the ball inside the playing area and then cut it back to substitute attacker Maxi Rodriguez, who made no mistake with his first-time effort.
Both managers took the opportunity to experiment after that, and Argentina boss Alejandro Sabella introduced Enzo Perez, Ricardo Alvarez and Augusto Fernandez in short order.
By the time Messi ran himself just offside in the 78th minute, the hosts knew they had done enough, and at the final whistle they were well worth the three-goal cushion at Estadio Monumental.
Lionel Messi addressed the press after Wednesday's victory over Trinidad and Tobago, per the Daily Mail.
“We ended the game well. The main thing was to avoid injuries and catch some rhythm and confidence for what's ahead.
”The Barcelona maestro also spoke to the omission of his friend, Ever Banega, from Argentina's World Cup squad.
“Players who didn't make final squad? It was hard, Ever [Banega] is a close friend of mine, but coach has to make decisions.
Messi held scoreless as Argentina beat T&T.
Lionel Messi, looking to score his first World Cup goals since 2006 in Brazil this month, went scoreless as Argentina cruised to a 3-0 win over Trinidad and Tobago.
Messi missed several chances in the first half, was repeatedly fouled and hit the post with a free kick from which midfielder Javier Mascherano tapped in Argentina's second goal. Rodrigo Palacio, replacing the injured Gonzalo Higuain, headed the opener on the stroke of half-time and substitute Maxi Rodriguez completed the win in the 64th minute.
Prolific for Barcelona, Messi has only one goal to his name at two World Cups, scored in a 6-0 rout of Serbia and Montenegro on his tournament debut at the 2006 finals in Germany. He went goalless in five matches at the 2010 finals in South Africa.
"We finished strongly, Trinidad and Tobago were opponents who closed up at the back like some teams in the group will do [at the World Cup]," Messi told reporters.
Argentina, looking to win their third world title at the June in Brazil, cruised to victory after squandering a string of first-half chances with Ezequiel Lavezzi, replacing Sergio Agüero who was unwell earlier this week, the biggest culprit.
Palacio finally made the breakthrough, heading in an Angel Di María corner at the near post in the second minute of first-half stoppage time after Trinidad gave away the corner preventing Messi from scoring.
The pick of the goals was the third with Palacio racing onto a long ball out of defence, touching it past goalkeeper Jan-Michael Williams then pulling it back to Rodriguez who blasted it home from a tight angle past two defenders.
Concerned not to lose any of his players to injury, coach Alejandro Sabella took defender Martin Demichelis off at half-time after he had taken a knock on his ankle when stopping striker Kenwyne Jones. Another concern for Sabella was Palacio, who came off 15 minutes from the end after twisting his ankle.
Messi was paid a curious tribute as players shook hands before kick-off, with Trinidad's Ataullah Guerra making a flamboyant bow in front of Argentina's captain.
Argentina play a final warm-up at home to Slovenia in La Plata on Saturday before meeting Bosnia, Iran and Nigeria in Group F in Brazil.