Argentina held in stalemate
21 Jun 2006 - 22:04:37
Argentina finished top of Group C after playing out a dull and uninspiring goalless draw with Holland who also qualify for the last 16 as runners-up.
Both sides made five changes to their starting line-ups and cancelled each other out in a game of few chances.
It was all a far cry from Argentina's 6-0 thrashing of Serbia & Montengero last Friday while the Dutch seemed quite happy to frustrate their South American rivals.
Holland settled into their passing game immediately and Wesley Sneijder had the first effort on goal when his deflected shot looped in to Roberto Abbondanzieri's hands.
In the ninth minute great interplay by Argentina almost put Esteban Cambiasso through but an excellent tackle by Andre Ooijer denied him a shooting chance.
Midway through the first half Carlos Tevez twisted and turned on the edge of the area but his shot drifted wide while at the other end Dirk Kuyt selfishly shot at goal from a tight angle when a pass to Ruud van Nistelrooy inside the six-yard area would surely have been the better option.
The nearest either side came to breaking the deadlock arrived in the 29th minute when Juan Roman Riquelme's free-kick was diverted on to the post.
Maxi Rodriguez then drilled a stinging shot just wide with Edwin van der Sar beaten as the first half ended goalless.
If the first half was tight the second 45 minutes were even tighter. Chances were few and far between with Riquelme firing just wide in the 54th minute after being set up by Lionel Messi while with 17 minutes left Tevez's explosive shot brought a good save from van der Sar.
With five minutes left Sneijder won a free-kick 30 yards out but Rafael van der Vaart's effort whistled wide and with the last kick of the game Tevez fired a left-footed effort over the bar for Argentina.
The stalemate ensures Argentina will play Mexico in the last 16 while Holland can look forward to a clash with Portugal.