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Argentina rip Brazil apart

Argentina's 3-0 victory avenged the loss in the Copa America final which Brazil, without Ronaldinho and Kaka, had won by an equal margin. Indraneel Das reports.

sports Updated: Aug 20, 2008 00:57 IST
Indraneel Das

It usually takes 30 minutes from the Main Press Centre to the Workers' Stadium. On Tuesday it took more than double the time. It was as if everyone was going to the Workers' Stadium. It seemed, the whole of Beijing was walking in a trance, each following the other. In this part of the world, European football on television is fascinating entertainment and drawn by the prospect of seeing some of football's big names --- not usual in the Olympics --- they walked in step.

Home advantage neutered, it never seemed like Brazil were playing Argentina. The frenzied crowd had come here to watch their stars in action, not the teams. Ronaldinho and Lionel Messi in action, the prospect of seeing Juan Roman Riquelme and Gago up close it seemed was the buzz not another chapter in a contest between two nations who between them have seven World Cups.

It put a different zing around the game. Even before the start, every move these stars made brought the 53,000-strong crowd to its feet. Despite a goalless first half, on Tuesday, Argentina were more composed in midfield and at the back. They also planned and executed their build-ups well.

Gago, playing sweeper, fed Messi on the right and Requelme on the left. With Messi almost regaining full fitness and along with his speed, there was very little the Brazilian defence could do.

Ronaldinho started well too but like against France in the World Cup finals two years ago, faded in front of the brilliance of another man. This time it was a former teammate. Messi's magic wasn't quite like the masterclass Zinedine Zidane produced to knock the world champions out of Germany but it was enough to prolong Brazil's hunt for their maiden Olympic gold.

Often driving through a host of yellow shirts and weaving rings around them, Messi sparked chaos in the Brazil defence which Sergio Aguero exploited for a brace. The first, in the 52nd minute, was a chested effort after racing in to meet a ball from the left. The second, a simple tap in five minutes later, though looked off-side and took the match beyond the grasp of Dunga's men.

Sandwiched between Aguero's strikes was a Ronaldinho free-kick that thudded into the upright, the second time it happened for Brazil on a night where little went right for them. Riquelme then converted a penalty in the 76th minute and Brazil ended the match with nine men after Lucas and Thiago Neves were expelled for fouls on Javier Mascherano.Argentina's 3-0 victory on Tuesday avenged the loss in the Copa America final which Brazil, without Ronaldinho and Kaka, had won by an equal margin.