Copa America 2011: Argentina vs Costa Rica Match Review
Argentina on Monday came up with a brilliant performance in their last group match of the Copa America 2011 by defeating Costa Rica 3-0. Sergio Aguero scored a brace while Angel Di Maria pumped in one to ensure the host nation a quarter final berths.
The Atletico Madrid forward, with his poacher instinct pounced on a rebound just at the stroke of the half time and found the net to give the host a 1-0 lead. With the host running rampant in the second half with Lionel Messi at its best, Sergio Aguero added one more to his tally in the 54th minute before Angel Di Maria rounded of the proceedings in the 63rd minute.
“It was an important victory,” said Argentina defender Pablo Zabaleta, “For the team, to get more confidence, to show that we have talent and that this team still has a lot of room to improve. It was important to secure our spot in the quarterfinals and show a good collective game.”
Playing in front of the capacity crowd in Cordoba, it was not surprising to see Argentina go for the kill right from the start as Gonzalo Higuain missed a half chance within minutes of the start. With Messi playing the No.10 role on which he looks more comfortable, Albiceleste dominance was almost total, and Costa Rica retracted into its own half with only Joel Cambell making few runs towards the Argentineans post.
Messi and Co. streamed in numbers towards the Costa Rican’s area only to miss easy chances with ‘Pipita’ and Sergio Aguero squandering most of the chances in front of goal. In the 20th minute, Fernando Gago set up a one-on-one situation for the Real Madrid forward but could only find the goalkeeper’s legs. Few seconds later a rejuvenated Lionel Messi had a free kick which whistled past the post by few inches. Building up the frustration and pressure, Higuain also missed few clear chances and half time looks inevitable.
In the last play before the break, however, Argentina finally found the net. Fernando Gago hit hard from distance, and when Moreira let the ball slip from his grasp Aguero was on hand to turn it in. The relief of the hosts as they found themselves in the lead for the first time in the tournament was obvious, matched by an explosion of noise from the stands after tension had been slowly building.
“It was very important to score the goal in the closing moments of the first half,” said defender Javier Zanetti. “This calmed us down a lot.”
Sergio Batista’s side started the second half on a positive again with La Volpe’s side showing their physical aspect. Messi was the one, who bore the brunt of Costa Rica’s physical play after being clattered by Oscar Duarte; the defender deservedly receiving a yellow card. However few minutes later, Aguero found his second goal, from a perfectly fed through by ‘La Pulga’, becoming the top scorer of the tournament with three goals.
Argentina set up more chances for themselves and finally Di Maria from a perfect pass from Messi slam home the third for Argentina in the 63th minute.
El Flaco’ could not add a fourth to the tally though, and a 3-0 victory in Cordoba secures Argentina’s passage into the last eight as second-place in Group A. Costa Rica meanwhile will have to wait until the culmination of the other two groups to discover if their three points are enough to put them through as the two best third-placed nation.