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Argentina beat Nigeria but Maradona has work to do

| 12.06.2010

Argentina eased themselves to a 1-0 win against Nigeria, though Maradona will have been alarmed by his team’s inability to convert a host of scoring opportunities.

The 5/1 World Cup contenders began well when an unmarked Gabriel Heinze opened the scoring with a diving header, but their sloppy second half performance left much to be desired.

As expected, Lionel Messi was the main Argentine threat, and the Barcelona player was only denied a goal in the first half by two superb saves from Nigeria goalkeeper Vincent Enyema.

Messi hit a second half shot narrowly wide and was again thwarted by Enyema when one on one with the keeper.

Maradona was typically eccentric in his selection for the match, naming left winger Jonas Gutierrez at right-back.

Gutierrez was promptly exploited by Nigeria’s left-sided players but, unable to take full advantage with a goal, the Super Eagles were left to rue their missed opportunities.

After dominating the first half, Argentina sat back in the second period and invited Nigeria to attack, with Taye Taiwo a whisker away from equalising with a low, fizzing left-foot strike.

Maradona will be content with his team’s showing, but if the manager experiments against better teams like he did with Gutierrez, Argentina could struggle.

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Robbie Morris

Robbie studied sports journalism at the University of Gloucestershire, an establishment chosen for its proximity to Cheltenham racecourse, where he was a season ticket holder. Upon graduation, Robbie was a contributor to GolfPunk, a national magazine aimed at ridding golf of its traditionalist image, before joining the news.ladbrokes team.