Messi on the mark for Argentina | sports | Hindustan Times
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Messi on the mark for Argentina

sports Updated: Jun 04, 2012 00:02 IST

Argentina's decision to play their four world class forwards was fully justified in a crushing 4-0 win over Ecuador that put them top of the South American World Cup qualifiers on Saturday.

Sergio Aguero, Gonzalo Higuain, Lionel Messi and Angel Di Maria all scored in the victory as the home side scored three goals in a devastating 11 minute period in the first half that settled the outcome.

Messi, replicating his Barcelona form more and more with each match for his country, was brilliant and may well have finally won over the crowd at the Monumental in Buenos Aires.

"We have to be a solid team, structured in defence and accompany Lionel so he can express himself to the full," coach Alejandro Sabella said.

Argentina lead the South American group with 10 points from five matches, one more point than Chile, who beat Bolivia 2-0 in La Paz, and two ahead of Uruguay and Venezuela who drew 1-1 in Montevideo.

However, Argentina can be overtaken next weekend when they have a bye which they will spend playing Brazil in a friendly in the United States.

Uruguay failed to end their Venezuela jinx, going a fifth World Cup qualifier in succession without beating the region's former whipping boys.

Honda volley sets Japan on way

SAITAMA, Japan: Keisuke Honda inspired Japan to a comfortable 3-0 home victory over Oman on Sunday in their opening game of the final round of Asian 2014 World Cup qualifiers.

The midfielder fired Japan in front after 11 minutes with a superb left-foot volley, wheeling away in delight kissing his shirt badge after finishing off a slick three-man move.