Goals will come says Messi

World footballer of the year Lionel Messi is not worried he has so far failed to score at the World Cup as long as Argentina keep winning.

The Barcelona star hit the post and forced two good saves from Greece goalkeeper Alexandros Tzorvas last night, the second of which provided the rebound for veteran striker Martin Palermo to wrap up a 2-0 victory at the Peter Mokaba Stadium in Polokwane.



Diego Maradona's side coasted through Group B with maximum points and seven goals - none of which have yet come from the mercurial feet of Messi.



That is a combination of bad luck and the close attention he is receiving - Sokratis Papastathopoulos rarely left his side in last night's game - but the knock-on effect is that team-mates are benefiting.



"I know I still haven't scored but I'm not bothered about that," said Messi, who two days short of his 23rd birthday was made Argentina's youngest captain for the Greece game.



"Obviously I'd like to get a goal but it's only a question of time before it comes.



"The way Greece played made it tough for us. All they did was defend.



"Luckily we managed to impose ourselves again and we got another win, and that's what matters."



Maradona, who has been canny enough to give Messi a free role behind the two strikers as opposed to stationing him on the right wing where he occupies most of his time for Barcelona, is desperate for the number 10 to score.



"I was sorry Messi didn't get a goal," he said after the Greece victory.



"I dived on the ground when his shot hit the post and if there'd been a swimming pool around I'd have jumped in head first."



Midfielder Juan Sebastian Veron, who made his comeback from a calf injury as one of seven changes as Maradona rotated his side, has warned opponents they may find a way to nullify the threat of Messi but they will not stop Argentina scoring.



Maradona has brought six forwards to the World Cup with Liverpool midfielder Maxi Rodriguez and Benfica's Angel di Maria providing the attacking options from midfield.



Greece's plan to frustrate Messi by crowding him out was successful for long periods but Otto Rehhagel's side still found it was impossible to defend for 90 minutes without allowing Argentina a chance.



That the first goal went, fortuitously, to defender Martin Demichelis when he headed Messi's corner against team-mate Diego Milito and then smashed home the rebound is somewhat irrelevant.



If anything it proved that for all their attractive football Argentina pose as much of a threat from set-pieces and so defending in numbers from open play cannot guarantee a clean sheet.



"We realised what we had to do when we saw Greece did not propose anything other than defending," said the former Manchester United and Chelsea midfielder.



"Definitely the result was fair as any other ending would have been really unfair as Argentina were the only team who created anything and were always at the forefront.



"They marked Leo (Messi) very closely to try to cut off the flow of the game but we always find space by changing positions.



"It took a lot of work but the goal came when we needed it. From there it opened up a little and it finished better.



"I'm happy for the goals of Micho (Demichelis) and Martin because they deserve it.



"It is also very good not to always depend on the same scorers. It is an option we have and others do not."



Argentina now face Mexico at Soccer City in Johannesburg on Sunday in a repeat of their last-16 clash four years ago in Germany.



Then it took a wonder-goal from Rodriguez to settle the issue so Argentina will not take Javier Aguirre's free-flowing side for granted.



"We are driven by our dreams and desires but we know this is a long tournament and if we do not have a cool head at any time we will stumble," said the 35-year-old Estudiantes midfielder.



"Now it is inevitable we will meet good teams. We play Mexico and we must be prepared for whatever comes.



"We are going very well and we are all on the same wavelength, a factor that is key in a World Cup."



PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
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

As in 1942, Germany must show restraint over Greece

As in 1942, Germany must show restraint over Greece

Mussolini tried to warn his ally of the danger of bringing the country to its knees. So should we, says Patrick Cockburn
Britain's widening poverty gap should be causing outrage at the start of the election campaign

The short stroll that should be our walk of shame

Courting the global elite has failed to benefit Britain, as the vast disparity in wealth on display in the capital shows
Homeless Veterans appeal: The rise of the working poor: when having a job cannot prevent poverty

Homeless Veterans appeal

The rise of the working poor: when having a job cannot prevent poverty
Prince Charles the saviour of the nation? A new book highlights concerns about how political he will be when he eventually becomes king

Prince Charles the saviour of the nation?

A new book highlights concerns about how political he will be when he eventually becomes king
How books can defeat Isis: Patrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad

How books can defeat Isis

Patrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad
Judith Hackitt: The myths of elf 'n' safety

Judith Hackitt: The myths of elf 'n' safety

She may be in charge of minimising our risks of injury, but the chair of the Health and Safety Executive still wants children to be able to hurt themselves
The open loathing between Barack Obama and Benjamin Netanyahu just got worse

The open loathing between Obama and Netanyahu just got worse

The Israeli PM's relationship with the Obama has always been chilly, but going over the President's head on Iran will do him no favours, says Rupert Cornwell
French chefs get 'le huff' as nation slips down global cuisine rankings

French chefs get 'le huff' as nation slips down global cuisine rankings

Fury at British best restaurants survey sees French magazine produce a rival list
Star choreographer Matthew Bourne gives young carers a chance to perform at Sadler's Wells

Young carers to make dance debut

What happened when superstar choreographer Matthew Bourne encouraged 27 teenage carers to think about themselves for once?
Design Council's 70th anniversary: Four of the most intriguing prototypes from Ones to Watch

Design Council's 70th anniversary

Four of the most intriguing prototypes from Ones to Watch
Dame Harriet Walter: The actress on learning what it is to age, plastic surgery, and her unease at being honoured by the establishment

Dame Harriet Walter interview

The actress on learning what it is to age, plastic surgery, and her unease at being honoured by the establishment
Art should not be a slave to the ideas driving it

Art should not be a slave to the ideas driving it

Critics of Tom Stoppard's new play seem to agree that cerebral can never trump character, says DJ Taylor
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's winter salads will make you feel energised through February

Bill Granger's winter salads

Salads aren't just a bit on the side, says our chef - their crunch, colour and natural goodness are perfect for a midwinter pick-me-up
England vs Wales: Cool head George Ford ready to put out dragon fire

George Ford: Cool head ready to put out dragon fire

No 10’s calmness under pressure will be key for England in Cardiff
Michael Calvin: Time for Old Firm to put aside bigotry and forge new links

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Time for Old Firm to put aside bigotry and forge new links