Tevez's golden boot inspires Argentina

Argentina 1 - Paraguay 0

He was born in Buenos Aires, plays for Boca Juniors and wears Argentina's No 10 shirt. He is short, squat and deceptively fast. He has an eye for goal, subtle ball skills and the knack of finding the net in major tournaments. For the sake of his future health, you can only hope that the similarities between Carlos Tevez and Diego Maradona end there.

He was born in Buenos Aires, plays for Boca Juniors and wears Argentina's No 10 shirt. He is short, squat and deceptively fast. He has an eye for goal, subtle ball skills and the knack of finding the net in major tournaments. For the sake of his future health, you can only hope that the similarities between Carlos Tevez and Diego Maradona end there.

Tevez, 20, has been one of the outstanding players in the Olympic football tournament and it was fitting that he should score the winner in yesterday's final in the Olympic Stadium, reinforcing his position as the competition's top scorer with eight goals.

It was a classic poacher's strike. When Mauro Rosales crossed from the right after 18 minutes, either Diego Barreto, Paraguay's goalkeeper, or one of two defenders, Julio Manzur and Carlos Gamarra, seemed certain to reach the ball first. Tevez, however, darted between all three of them and turned the ball into the net. You can be sure that Europe's top clubs, including plenty from the Premiership, were watching with interest.

This was Argentina's first Olympic gold medal in any sport since 1952 and the stature of the three over-aged players they selected - Valencia's Roberto Ayala, Manchester United's Gabriel Heinze and Intenazionale's Kily Gonzalez - showed how seriously they took the tournament. All played key parts in yesterday's victory and their experience helped to bring the best out of the rest of the team, who under Olympic rules have to be aged 23 or under.

Andres D'Alessandro showed great vision in midfield, Fabricio Coloccini demonstrated the benefits of his experience in Spain and Italy, while Rosales was a constant thorn in Paraguay's left side. Argentina should have won by a much clearer margin, a lack of composure in front of goal being their only weakness. Luis Gonzalez blazed over the bar from 12 yards, Rosales hit the outside of a post with a free header and Tevez wasted at least three more good opportunities.

While their willingness to attack was a joy to watch, what was equally pleasing was Argentina's lack of cynicism. The only occasion when the 41,000 crowd were less than appreciative was in injury time, when five men broke clear to face three Paraguayan defenders, only for Tevez to waste time by taking the ball wide.

Paraguay offered little other than ruthless body-checking, scything tackles and shirt-pulling. Gamarra was lucky not to be sent off for a blatant elbow in Tevez's face after 29 minutes and Emilio Martinez was shown a red card for the same offence midway through the second half. Diego Figueredo was sent off nine minutes from time for his second yellow card, one of seven shown to the Paraguayans.

Heinze, Manchester United's summer recruit from Paris St-Germain, played at left-back and looked assured throughout. After the medal ceremony he kissed his gold medal and pointed to the sky in tribute to his father, Jorge, who died in June. "I just wanted this medal to be for him," he said.

The defender's absence from the start of the Premiership season has infuriated Sir Alex Ferguson, who will not see his £6.9m signing for another 10 days. Heinze has flown back to Argentina for a World Cup qualifying match against Peru next Saturday, though he should be available for United's next Premiership match against Bolton Wanderers in a fortnight's time.

However, the defender refuted suggestions that he had been avoiding contact with his new employers, saying that he had been speaking to United officials "virtually every day" since the beginning of the Olympics. "I don't make the calendar," he said after yesterday's match. "Fifa and the other governing bodies arrange the games and the tournaments. All I do is play in them if selected."

Heinze said he was still feeling the pain from a pelvic injury sustained earlier in the tournament, but insisted: "I have a few niggles, like most players, but I am fit and young, so I can get through them. I don't need a rest and I'm looking forward to joining up with United."

Argentina (3-4-3): Lux (River Plate); Coloccini (Milan), Ayala (Valencia), Heinze (Manchester United); L Gonzalez (River Plate), Mascherano (River Plate), D'Alessandro (Wolfsburg), K Gonzalez (Internazionale); Rosales (Newell's Old Boys), Tevez (Boca Juniors), Delgado (Cruz Azul) (Rodriguez, Spartak Moscow, 76).

Paraguay (4-3-1-2): D Barreto (Cerro Porteno); Martinez (Libertad), Gamarra (Internazionale), (Diaz, Guarani, 62), Torres (Guarani), Manzur (Guarani); Enciso (Olimpia Assuncion), E Barreto (Nijmegen) (Cristaldo, Cerro Porteno, 72), Esquivel (San Lorenzo) (J Gonzalez, Nacional, 76); Figueredo (Valladolid); Gimenez (Guarani), Bareiro (Libertad).

Referee: K Vassaras (Greece).

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