Argentina power into last-16 after beating Greece

Greece 0 Argentina 2

Defender Martin Demichelis and substitute Martin Palermo succeeded where Argentina's multi-talented strikeforce had failed as they scored the goals to break Greece's resilience and end their World Cup hopes at the Peter Mokaba Stadium in Polokwane.

Bayern Munich centre-back Demichelis fired home from close range in the 77th minute after his header from Lionel Messi's corner bounced back off team-mate Diego Milito.



Boca Juniors striker Palermo tapped in the rebound from Lionel Messi's shot to complete the victory a minute from time.



It sent Argentina into the knockout phase to face Mexico full of confidence on the back of three successive wins as Greece's best defensive efforts ultimately proved to be in vain.



South Korea's 2-2 draw with Nigeria put them through as Group B runners-up.



For long periods Diego Maradona's side were frustrated by Greece, for whom defending is what they do best - having used the tactic to become surprise European champions in 2004.



However, what Otto Rehhagel's side desperately needed more than anything was a goal and despite the unstinting efforts of Celtic striker Georgios Samaras - who at times appeared to be the one in a 10-1 formation - they just did not threaten enough.



Argentina, by contrast, did not really need to exert themselves as they were virtually guaranteed to progress as group winners before the match kicked off.



Messi captained the side after Maradona made seven changes from victory over South Korea but found himself closely marked throughout.



He had one early trademark run towards the penalty area which was halted by Sokratis Papastathopoulos but otherwise was effectively shackled throughout.



Sergio Aguero's first sight of goal saw the busy Alexandros Tzorvas palm his shot away for a corner in the 18th minute and the goalkeeper then immediately had to tip over Juan Sebastian Veron's 30-yard strike.



Tzorvas almost undid all Greece's hard work when he spilled Diego Milito's low cross into the path of Aguero but Loukas Vyntra charged down his shot at the far post.



But he redeemed himself in first-half added time when he saved from Liverpool midfielder Maxi Rodriguez and Messi in quick succession.



Three minutes into the second half Greece almost snatched the lead when Samaras beat Demichelis to another long ball out of defence and raced into the penalty area but drove wide of far post with his left foot - Greece's first shot of the match.



But injuries were not kind to Rehhagel's side as they lost Georgios Karagounis, Konstantinos Katsouranis and Vasileios Torosidis all within 10 minutes of the restart.



Argentina pressed on regardless with Milito inches from heading in a cross from left-back Clemente Rodriguez, who himself hit a dipping shot just wide.



In the 68th minute Messi's long-range free-kick brought another save out of Tzorvas and from the resulting corner the ball dropped to defensive midfielder Mario Bolatti but he shot straight at the goalkeeper from six yards.



It was 24 years to the day since Maradona scored his infamous Hand of God goal against England in the quarter-finals of 1986 Mexico World Cup - Argentina's last triumph at this tournament - and the frustrated players might have felt like indulging in similar skulduggery themselves.



But Demichelis saved anyone the embarrassment by drilling into the roof of the net with 13 minutes to go.



Things opened up after that and Messi smashed a left-footed shot off the post having weaved his way into the penalty area.



His next effort was more productive as Tzorvas parried his strike into the path of the 36-year-old Palermo who took full advantage.

Arts and Entertainment
Lou Reed distorted the truth about his upbringing, and since his death in 2013, biographers and memoirists have added to the myths
musicThe truth about Lou Reed's upbringing beyond the biographers' and memoirists' myths
News
people
News
Ed Miliband received a warm welcome in Chester
election 2015
Life and Style
Apple CEO Tim Cook announces the Apple Watch during an Apple special even
fashionIs the Apple Watch for you? Well, it depends if you want it for the fitness tech, or for the style
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers

Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
How do Greek voters feel about Syriza's backtracking on its anti-austerity pledge?

How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

The wars that come back to haunt us

David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne: Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders
Heston Blumenthal to cook up a spice odyssey for British astronaut manning the International Space Station

UK's Major Tum to blast off on a spice odyssey

Nothing but the best for British astronaut as chef Heston Blumenthal cooks up his rations
John Harrison's 'longitude' clock sets new record - 300 years on

‘Longitude’ clock sets new record - 300 years on

Greenwich horologists celebrate as it keeps to within a second of real time over a 100-day test
Fears in the US of being outgunned in the vital propaganda wars by Russia, China - and even Isis - have prompted a rethink on overseas broadcasters

Let the propaganda wars begin - again

'Accurate, objective, comprehensive': that was Voice of America's creed, but now its masters want it to promote US policy, reports Rupert Cornwell
Why Japan's incredible long-distance runners will never win the London Marathon

Japan's incredible long-distance runners

Every year, Japanese long-distance runners post some of the world's fastest times – yet, come next weekend, not a single elite competitor from the country will be at the London Marathon
Why does Tom Drury remain the greatest writer you've never heard of?

Tom Drury: The quiet American

His debut was considered one of the finest novels of the past 50 years, and he is every bit the equal of his contemporaries, Jonathan Franzen, Dave Eggers and David Foster Wallace
You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

Dave Hax's domestic tips are reminiscent of George Orwell's tea routine. The world might need revolution, but we like to sweat the small stuff, says DJ Taylor
Beige is back: The drab car colours of the 1970s are proving popular again

Beige to the future

Flares and flounce are back on catwalks but a revival in ’70s car paintjobs was a stack-heeled step too far – until now
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's dishes highlight the delicate essence of fresh cheeses

Bill Granger cooks with fresh cheeses

More delicate on the palate, milder, fresh cheeses can also be kinder to the waistline
Aston Villa vs Liverpool: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful,' says veteran Shay Given

Shay Given: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful'

The Villa keeper has been overlooked for a long time and has unhappy memories of the national stadium – but he is savouring his chance to play at Wembley
Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own - Michael Calvin

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own