Maxi puts Argentina through

24 June 2006 10:57
Maxi Rodriguez's wonder strike booked Argentina a quarter-final clash with Germany after a thrilling 2-1 extra-time victory over Mexico in Leipzig. The Atletico Madrid midfielder struck eight minutes into the first period of extra time to break the resistance of a spirited Mexico side who for long periods of the game had matched their more illustrious opponents. It was a goal that was worthy of winning any game as he conjured up a piece of magic to control an angled pass from Sorin on his chest before looping a volley over the keeper from the corner of the penalty area. Up to that point it had been an even match but one – particularly in the opening 45 minutes - that was full of breath-taking attacking football. Mexico started in quick fashion and after a series of promising breaks took the lead on six minutes. Mario Mendez flicked on a near-post free-kick and Rafael Marquez ghosted in behind Gabriel Heinze to volley past the exposed goalkeeper. It was no more than Ricardo La Volpe side's deserved as they bossed the opening exchanges, but gradually their South American opponents found their rhythm and on 10 minutes Argentina were back on level terms. Jared Borgetti cut in front of Hernan Crespo in the six-yard box to clear a corner but the Bolton striker only succeeded in heading the ball past his own goalkeeper. Crespo could have edged Argentina in front on 22 minutes when he lifted a shot over the advancing keeper but his effort bounced the wrong side of the far post. But Jose Pekerman's side were fortunate on the stroke of half-time when Heinze was only booked for bringing down Fonseca after mis-controlling a clearance from the keeper when a red card could easily have been brandished. After the interval the frenetic pace of the match dipped allowing Argentina's playmaker Juan Roman Riquelme to take a stranglehold on the midfield. The Villareal midfielder released Saviola on the hour-mark but Oswaldo Sanchez clawed away his stabbed effort for a corner. Argentina, though, could have avoided the need for extra-time had the linesman not ruled substitute Lionel Messi's last-minute strike out for offside after Pablo Aimar cut the ball back to the Barcelona forward. With both sides continuing to push for the winner in extra time it was left to Rodriguez to settle the match with surely what will turn out to be the goal of the tournament.

Source: ESA