Messi gives Maradona perfect start

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The Independent Football

Argentina, inspired by Lionel Messi, marked Diego Maradona's home and competitive debut as coach by beating Venezuela 4-0 in a World Cup qualifier on Saturday. Messi scored the first goal and set up the second for Carlos Tevez before Maximiliano Rodriguez and Sergio Aguero completed an easy win for the hosts.

Argentina depended on Messi for inspiration and went ahead when Messi cut inside, played a one-two with Tevez and struck a low shot into the far corner. Two quick goals early in the second half ended Venezuela's resistance. Tevez volleyed in Messi's cross at the far post in the 47th minute and Rodriguez scored with a weak shot five minutes later. Aguero completed the scoring in the 73rd minute.

Mexico bought some time for under-pressure coach Sven-Goran Eriksson by beating Costa Rica 2-0.

Serbia continue to lead Group Seven in Europe after a 3-2 win in Romania, but France moved to within two points of second-place Lithuania after beating them 1-0 in Kaunas. Franck Ribery's long-range shot gave brought them victory.

Spain's Gerard Pique scored in the 60th minute against Turkey in Madrid to preserve the European champions' perfect record as Group Five leaders. Bosnia-Herzegovina moved into second place with a 4-2 win in Belgium.