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Trinidad and Tobago
16 November 2013
• MetLife Stadium, East Rutherford, New Jersey
Referee: S. Petrescu
• Attendance: 38000
Shots on Target
See you next time folks, it's been fun.
It's finished as it started here, 0-0 between the South Americans in New Jersey. But the scoreline does scant justice to just how wonderful and pulsating this game was, particularly from Ecuador's point of view. Their energy and directness was non stop, and though Argentina were not without quality of their own, there were more questions than answers for the Messi-less Albiceleste, who rode their luck at times.
90' + 1'
And that will do it! Goalless at full time.
Yellow CardF. Gaibor
Only one minute added on here, a testament to the non stop nature of this game.
ARGENTINA HIT THE WOODWORK! Aguero attacks a cross unmarked at the far post, but pings the ball off that very frame with a sidefooted volley!
Wold be tough on either side to concede a goal now, though Ecuador have shaded matters throughout. A wonderful, passionately contested game throughout.
Yellow CardW. Ayoví
Palacio throws himself to the turf against pressure from Ayovi, but the referee spots the simulation and is having none of it. Good officiating all around from the referee and his assistants, who have all represented the MLS, their home league, well.
Dominguez sees another shot straight at him and smothers, this one coning in from Alvarez at the top of the box, cutting in from the left. Argentina have not really made the keeper work too hard tonight, despite the number of shots that they have gotten in.
Yellow CardJ. Ayoví
Ugly set piece from Ecuador, blasted miles, miles over the bar with a bevy of yellow shirts lining up to attack the ball in the box.
OOOH, Palacio comes within a blade of grass of connecting to a slick Alvarez back-heel and getting space for a primed shot on goal!
Dominguez reads a dangerous low cross well to smother just at the feet of Aguero, on what could have been big trouble for Ecuador.
Yet more substitutions as Martinez and Ayovi make an appearance for Ecuador.
Jefferson Antonio Montero
DI MARIA WITH A SIZZLER! The Real Madrid man rasps a sharp effort towards Dominguez, who needs two touches to bring it under his wing.
As entertaining a 0-0 as you will ever see, both sides creating plenty of space and looking good bets for an opener. Palacio, by the way, looks set to come on in place of Higuain.
The match just slowing down a tad as both sides adjust to the substitutions. Both sides are far from giving up on this one though, still fiercely contested all over the pitch.
More subs coming up as Roncaglia is withdrawn for Zabaleta, while the ineffective Lavezzi makes way for Aguero.
Ibarra's introduction has moved Valencia centrally, as the Manchester United man is getting himself much more involved in the buildup play here
Argentina doing to Ecuador what they themselves suffered in the first half. Alvarez nicks the ball off of Guagua in a dangerous position, but with time to pick his spot, drags his shot the wrong side of the far post!
PENALTY? Higuain goes tumbling under pressure from the defence in the box, but the referee is well positioned to deny him a call. Good decision by the match official.
BACK AND FORTH WE GO! Montero wriggles free excellently down the left, and tries to float a soft cross into Caicedo, but it's too close to Fernandez. Argentina break immediately, and Di Maria forces another save out of Dominguez!
Caicedo's poor first touch nearly ruins an Ecuador attack, but he recovers in time to slide in Paredes down the right on the overlap, who drills a cross into the arms of Romero!
DI MARIA GOES CLOSE AGAIN! He's really finding some joy down the right in the second half, and takes aim once again from just outside the box, but just misses the target!
DI MARIA! Argentina attack at pace once again, as Banega picks the pocket of an Ecuador man in midfield, before teeing up Di Maria on the right, who cuts onto his favored left foot before bending a shot towards goal that's slapped away by Dominguez!
Argentina's turn to go direct, as the ball is chipped forward for Higuain, on the run, but Guagua gets in the way to intercept in time.
Here we go again.
A rip roaring half, with most of the attacking excellence coming from Ecuador. No goals though, but Argentina have rode their luck heavily at times. It's all set up excellently for the second half! Stay tuned.
45' + 1'
Another entertaining Ecuador attack comes to naught as Romero positions himself well to smother a shot from the edge of the box. And that's it for the half!
Almost a Valencia to Valencia goal, as Antoni's drilled cross just evades Eder on the penalty spot. Ecuador coming closer and closer.
Ecuador with all the energy, all the enterprise, all the excitement, but no end product. Often the fatal flaw in this team, will it come back to haunt them in the second half? Argentina have the players on the pitch to clinically punish any lapse, not to mention Lamela and Aguero on the bench.
Not quite as good for Valencia this time, as he tries to capitalize on a loose ball at the top of the box, but launches a wild shot into the top row.
Orban is getting roasted out here, someone bring out the marshmallows! Valencia nicks the ball off him in his own half, and it takes the covering presence of Mascherano to prevent the Manchester United man winger from getting into a shooting position in he box!
Banega's long free kick finds Higuain heavily marked, but he has the presence of mind to square to Lavezzi on the byline, who blasts a shot into orbit. Still, more positive signs for the Albiceleste after a long spell of Ecuador pressure
Argentina attack for the first time in what seems like forever. Di Maria squares a delicious ball across the six yard area, which Higuain just about misses getting a connection on!
Yellow CardFacundo Roncaglia
Right there we've perhaps seen the weakness of this Ecuador side. Montero storms into the box from the left for the umpteenth time, but with the goal almost at his mercy, shanks his shot quite badly. Quite good at setting the table, are Ecuador, but who in their team can feast?
Chip into the centre finds Valencia, and if he had controlled the ball one second earlier, he would surely have slid in Monero completely unmarked on the left. As it was though, Roncaglia makes a vital tackle.
The Ecuador machine is revved up again. Montero this time is the point man, sliding in Caicedo down the left flank. He spots Valencia making himself busy in the box, and tries to square a low ball into his path, but Romero just about smothers it at his feet!
Another rapier attack from La Tri sees Caicedo slice a shot over the bar from the top of the box.
ECUADOR ATTACK AT WARP SPEED! Valencia leads the charge into the opposition half, and with Argantina scrambling to keep up, picks out Caicedo on the right, The pass sends the striker a little too wide though, and that allows the defence the opportunity to close him down before he can pull the trigger.
The all is popping up at some weird angles here, as the players try to get a handle on the turf. This harms Argentina more than Ecuador, as their patient passing game needs the roll of the green more than Ecuador's direct, vertical game.
Argentina starting to slow the pace of the game down a bit, trying to string a few passes together. Ecuador defending deep for the moment.
You don't see too many teams nowadays completely channel all their attacks down the flanks, entirely dependent on the ability of the winger to beat his man. Quite a refreshing taste, Rueda's men.
Quarter of an hour gone, and it's clear that Ecuador have Argentina completely whipped on the flanks. Their energy and directness has the Albiceleste defence rattled, and the only question is for how long they can keep up this pace.
WOODWORK! ECUADOR COME WITHIN MILLIMETERS! That man Montero has been absolutely sensational, making his way to the byeline with power and finesse, before standing a cross up for Valencia at the far post, who plants a header onto the frame of the goal!
MONTERO AGAIN! He looked to have had the beating of Roncaglia on the flanks for the second time in two minutes, but the Fiorentina defender, on his backside, manages to slide the ball out for a corner!
Some SCINTILLATING dribbling from Montero on the left hand side, leaving no less than three Argentines in his dust before whipping in a devilish cross that is taken off the head of Caicedo by Mascherano!
Higuain finds a gap on the left flank, and is found with precision by Banega. The Napoli striker drives down the byeline into the box, and attempts to cut it back to one of the runners in position, but he can't find a teammate.
Lovely devil may care start to the game from both sides, as Dominguez weaves into shooting space inside the box, before cracking an effort in that Mascherano just about gets in the way of!
LAVEZZI ALREADY! A swift counter by Argentina, after Valencia nearly squeezed through on the other end. Di Maria squares to the PSG man on the left hand side, and he out-sprints his marker before dragging his finish just wide of the far post!
Here we go!
Pre-match formalities in full flow, as the starting lineups emerge to quite a soundtrack from the loudspeakers. Both Ecuador and Argentina, of course, have wrapped up qualification for the World Cup finals, but tonight will be a great opportunity for some players to stake their place for one of the plane tickets to Brazil in just over half a year
The fans still filing into the stadium, all well bundled. Chilly night in Jersey, but very dry, and hardly any wind to speak of. Out come the subs, taking the scenic route around the ground to give their fans something to cheer.
What's interesting about the MetLife Stadium is that it's normally an artificial turf, but tonight, there's been natural grass laid over the fake stuff just so these two South American outfits can do battle. I for one am very curious to see how that plays out, will it affect the pattern or approach of both sides?
Lionel Messi of course is the main man missing for the Albiceleste, but his abscence has allowed others, namely Ezequiel Lavezzi, Gonzalo Higuain and Angel Di Maria, to stake their claim for a starting berth. Even without the Barcelona talisman, it's still a bevy of options up front for Alejandro Sabella, as Sergio Aguero and Erik Lamela have to settle for a place on the bench.
ARGENTINA: Romero; Garay, Orban, Roncaglia, Fernandez; Banega, Mascherano, Alvarez, Di Maria; Higuain, Lavezzi.
ECUADOR: Dominguez; Erazo, Paredes, Noboa, Guagua; Montero, W. Ayovi, Castillo, Antonio Valencia, Enner Valencia; Caicedo.
Greetings one and all, and welcome to the friendly showdown between Ecuador and Argentina. I'm Keeghann Sinanan, and I'll be bringing you all the action.
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