Argentina and Lionel Messi (blue jersey) defeated visiting Trinidad & Tobago 3-0 in an international friendly on June 4, 2014, in Buenos Aires. (Photo: Allan V. Crane)
BUENOS AIRES, Argentina – With the World Cup looming on the horizon, Argentina claimed a 3-0 victory over visiting Trinidad & Tobago on Wednesday at the Estadio Monumental.
Rodrigo Palacios, Javier Mascherano and Maxi Rodriguez all claimed goals for the two-time world champions, who will meet Bosnia-Herzegovina in the World Cup opener for each on June 15, at the Maracana Stadium in Rio de Janeiro.
On a chilly night in the Argentinian capital, the home side dictated the tempo early against the Soca Warriors, knocking the ball around with ease as four-time Balon D’Or winner Lionel Messi set up shop in the center of the park.
Following a Trinidad corner kick that failed to beat the first defender, the Albiceleste almost got on the board in the 11th minute, quickly countering with a move that saw Messi’s side-footed effort skirt harmlessly wide of goal.
After Ezequiel Lavezzi put a half volley just wide 20 minutes in, Trinidad enjoyed a much-needed spell of possession and soon produced its first chance, when midfielder Andre Boucaud volleyed wide.
Playing in a 4-3-3 formation, the talented Argentine triumvirate of Messi, Angel DiMaria and Lavezzi were constant threats as the first half wore on. The Trinidadians, to their credit, remained compact along the back, holding tight through 44 minutes of play.
In the 45th, however, it was Messi again who created the danger. Playing DiMaria in to space, the Barcelona star made a clever run towards goal, only to have the return ball cleared out brilliantly by Trinidad defender Yohance Marshall. On the ensuing corner kick, Inter Milan striker Rodrigo Palacios cracked the safe, rising up convincingly to head the host into a 1-0 lead.
Argentina emerged from the break in a determined mood and doubled the advantage within six minutes. From 19-yards out, Messi curled a free kick over the wall and off the far post. The ball fell for Messi’s club teammate Javier Mascherano to poke home instinctively.
With substitutions entering the fray and play beginning to slow, Palacio found Maxi Rodriguez for Argentina’s third and final goal.
Trinidad next travels to Sao Paulo, Brazil, for a June 8 encounter against Iran.