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St. Kitts and Nevis
February 6, 2013
• Friends Arena, Solna
Referee: A. Gautier
• Attendance: 49646
J. Olsson 18'
R. Elm 90'+
M. Lustig 3' (own goal)
S. Agüero 19'
G. Higuaín 23'
It may not have been the Ibra vs. Messi encounter we were expecting but nevertheless there was plenty of lovely football on show. Thank you guys very much for joining us at Goal.com for it, and be sure to stick around for all the post-match news and analysis. My name is Tom Webber and it was an absolute pleasure to be your host. Have a lovely evening.
And that proves to be the last act of the game as the final whistle goes! Argentina run out 3-2 winners, though it could really have been more. Higuain opened the scoring via a deflection off of Lustig before Jonas Olsson equalised. Aguero and Higuain then added another couple before Elm's late strike made the match look a lot closer than it actually was.
90' + 5'
Goal Rasmus Elm
GOOOAAAL!! Rasmus Elm gets a late consolation for Sweden with a magnificently-struck free kick from all of 30 yards. He absolutely thumped that one and in blasted past Romero's left. A lovely goal.
90' + 2'
Romero comes to claim a corner but completely misses it! Fortunately for him there is no yellow shirt lurking behind to head the ball into the vacant net.
90' + 1'
Franco Di Santo
90' + 1'
We are into the first minute of an additional four..
Big hugs for Messi! A member of the crowd, wearing a Barcelona shirt with the Argentine's name and number on the back, invades the pitch and accosts his hero. To his credit Messi remains cool and accepts the fan's embrace, who then walks off in the arms of some stewards.
Again Argentina struggle with Sweden's aerial threat from a set piece but fortunately for them Granqvist sends a header wide of the post.
Martin Olsson remains full of running, even in the last few moments. He sprints forward down the left and receives a pass from Durmaz. He gets into the area but fails in his attempt to slam the ball into the top corner, missing the target by some way.
No he cannot. He sends the free kick straight into the awaiting arms of Isaksson. Not the Barcelona man's best effort there.
Yellow Card Pontus Wernbloom
Messi is to be given another chance to get on the scoresheet after a rash challenge from Wernbloom 25 yards from goal. Can he find the net?
What a waste! Hysen gets in behind the defence for the first time this evening but he lacks the energy to fire a convincing effort at Romero, instead looping a tame shot straight into the keeper's hands.
Awesome play from Messi as a little shimmy buys him the room to glide past Wernbloom and lay the ball out wide to Campagnaro. The defender sends a low cross into the danger area but it is intercepted and sent behind for a corner.
The Blagult have just over 10 minutes in order to avoid their first defeat to Argentina after a win and a draw in their two previous meetings. Without Ibrahimovic on the pitch, it does not look too likely.
Well if you thought the Argentina attack was lacking energy this half, that should change now as Ezequiel Lavezzi enters the fray. I would not be surprised if the hearts of the Sweden defenders just sunk a little bit at that sigh.
Fantastic effort from Hysen to get back and help his team defend against Messi who spins the defender in the area but cannot get a shot away due to the forward's challenge.
A superb interception from Granqvist stops Aguero's pass from putting Messi through on goal. The tempo of the game has dropped right off this half, but that should encourage Sweden to look for a way back into it.
Clever defending from Garay as he nudges Jonas Olsson out of the way of a free kick that looks set to land on his head. The referee does not feel it warrants a penalty and so Sabella's team area awarded a goal kick.
Yellow Card Sergio Agüero
Sweden finally manage to get the ball out of their half but there is no movement up top and they are lacking any sort of direction. Aguero closes in on a loose pass and pays the price for a rash challenge with a yellow card.
They may be rivals at club level but Messi and Higuain just linked up as if they play together every day. Some speedy, slick passes back and forth to each other enable the former the opportunity to play a pass to Aguero on the left but he cannot beat his man.
Messi cracks another attempt at goal but he drags a half-volley from the top of the box wide of the far post. It was a great first touch to bring the ball under but the second did not quite match it.
So far the second half has failed to live up to the first 45 minutes, but there have been some bright signs from the visitors in the last few moments. Hopefully more goals will shortly follow.
HOW HAS HE MISSED!! Aguero latches onto a lovely through-ball and holds of the challenge of the defender whilst rounding Isaksson. He is perhaps forced wider than he would have liked and with the goal gaping, he fails to steer his shot on goal and hits the side netting.
That looked to have been over the line but the referee appeared pretty certain to the contrary. It was Argentina's first real chance of the half as the withdrawal of Di Maria has removed the attacking injection from deep.
OFF THE LINE!! Messi is denied a goal in the most bizarre of fashions! The Barcelona man gets on the end of a dinked pass into the box and lifts the ball over Isaksson. The keeper spins around, runs back to the goal and clears the effort away with an overhead kick! Talk about one for the cameras!
There has been some good link-up play involving Martin Olsson on Sweden's left. This time he combines with Kacanikilic to make space for a cross, however he sends it too close to Romero and he gathers it.
Mascherano is down on the ground again, but it doesn't last for long. The midfielder joins Ariel Ortega as the sixth-most capped player for the Albiceleste with his 87th appearance this evening.
Some good early pressure from Sweden as they win a couple of corners in quick succession. Argentina are struggling from set pieces, particularly with Jonas Olsson in the area.
Ángel Di María
Here we go! The second half has begun.
Welcome back! The players have re-emerged and it looks like the second half is seconds away. Sweden are going to introduce Mathias Ranegie as they seek out some goals. For the visitors, Montillo comes on for Di Maria.
Sweden have still been in this and with some more-intense pressing, just as they did in the latter stages of the half, they stand a good chance of getting back into this. We can find out if they will when you rejoin me for the second half in 15 minutes. Send you comments to @thwebber in the meantime!
Argentina have played some lovely football tonight and they take a deserved 3-1 lead into half time. Higuain opened the scoring via a Lustig deflection but Jonas Olsson equalised with a header. Just one minute later, though, Aguero regained the Albiceleste's lead before Higuain found the net later.
45' + 1'
They are unable to make anything of it though as the half-time whistle goes!
Sweden win a corner as Garay clears Ibrahimovic's cross behind after the striker had breezed past Fernandez. The hosts are unable to make anything of it this time, but they win another one.
Mascherano is down on the floor in a heap after a 50-50 challenge with Svensson. The Barcelona player comes off worse but do not worry, he was up pretty quickly and looks unscathed.
FIRST OPPORTUNITY FOR IBRA!! The towering striker fails to connect with a tantalising cross into the box after Martin Olsson had combined well with Svensson to open some space on the right. Desperately close for the PSG man.
Granqvist just continued retreating as Aguero made his run there. Not the best thing to do when you want to suggest someone is offside.
WHAT A CHANCE!! Messi again is given far too much space on the edge of the box and he uses it to feed Aguero on the left of the area. The forward tries to pick out the far corner but ends up blazing his shot well over the bar.
GOOD SAVE!! The Blagult work the ball to Kallstrom on the left and he clips a cross into Kacanikilic. The youngster manages to bring it down and get a shot away but a slight deflection seems to take some of the pace away and Romero holds it.
Hamren has clearly motioned to his players to stop sitting so deep when without the ball. Sweden have just started pressing Argentina in their own half, and will get a lot more joy if they continue to do so.
A Mexican Wave is making its way around the stadium now. It must be from enjoyment as this match has been far from boring. Well, the last five minutes have perhaps been in comparison to what we've already seen!
Argentina are completely bossing this one now. Sweden cannot get anywhere near the ball as the visitors knock it about with a composed, precise manner.
Sabella's team are playing some absolutely sumptuous football, forcing Sweden to defend with two lines of four just in front of their own 18-yard line. Messi clips a ball over the top for Di Maria but after controlling it with his chest, it runs out of play for a goal kick.
THAT COULD HAVE BEEN FOUR!! Another rapid counterattack from the visitors who surge down the field with Messi carrying the ball. He dribbles across the box, slowing the pace to allow Di Maria to find space in the area. However, the Real Madrid winger hits a shot at the near post which Isaksson turns behind.
Goal Gonzalo Higuaín
GOOOAALL!! Argentina double their advantage! Campagnaro steals the ball off the toe of Ibrahimovic on the halfway line and the Albiceleste work it to Messi. He drills a 20-yard shot which is palmed straight back into the danger by Isaksson and Higuain, following in as all good strikers will, is provided with a simple finish.
This is precisely the exciting game that I was hoping for before kick off, but truth be told the two stars, Messi and Ibrahimovic, have had little involvement so far.
Assist Ángel Di María
Goal Sergio Agüero
UNBELIEVABLE!! ARGENTINA REGAIN THE LEAD! Di Maria is again the provider as he threads a marvelous through-ball for Aguero as he makes a diagonal run into the area. The Manchester City forward beats Isaksson to the ball and pokes a tidy finish past the keeper to make it 2-1.
Assist Kim Källström
Goal Jonas Olsson
GOOOOOAAALL!! It is an equaliser! Kallstrom whips in a sublime corner from the near side and Jonas Olsson rises to meet it in the area. Romero gets a hand to the header but it has too much power and finds its way into the back of the net.
Martin Olsson gets the chance to stretch his legs for the first time this half but after knocking the ball past Fernandez, the defender makes sure he won't meet it by forcing him down to the ground.
Kallstrom tries to slide a pass up to Kacanikilc as he makes a run forward but the Fulham man has his back to the ball and Zabaleta intercepts. Sighs of frustration ring erupt from the near section of the crowd.
Keen to not let that happen again, Granqvist hauls Messi to ground on the halfway line after the diminutive Argentine skipped passed him with ease.
Super football from Argentina! Di Maria drives in from the left and encourages a great passing move. Messi is at the heart of it but just as he looks to be played in Granqvist intercepts and loops the ball behind the goal. Lovely, flowing, one-touch play there.
After the frantic start Argentina try to slow the game down and knock the ball about in the Sweden half. A loose ball to Campagnaro is pounced upon by the hosts who look for Ibrahimovic to engineer something, but he fails to produce from deep.
This is end-to-end stuff! Kacanikilc plays the ball out wide to Hysen and then charges into the area. The lone striker plays a return pass into the area and the Fulham man stretches to connect. Garay comes across and looks to have done enough to force the winger to fire wide of the goal.
Another chance for Argentina! Again, the Albiceleste break at space through Aguero and although he lacks support he takes his time on the ball. He is eventually joined and the visitors work the ball to Di Maria on the left but his shot is deflected wide.
Own Goal M. Lustig
GOOOOAAL!! The perfect start for Argentina! Sabella's men show deadly speed on the break as the surge forward after winning the ball in their own area. Di Maria carries the ball to the edge of the box before feeding Higuain, who looks to go across goal. His shot is deflected by Lustig and sneaks in at the near post.
We are under way in Sweden! The hosts attacking from their left in the traditional yellow shirts and blue shorts.
The pre-match formalities are almost at a close and we are moments away from the start of this hugely-exciting fixture.
Messi and Aguero have struck up an almost-telepathic understanding in attack for the Albiceleste in recent months and hopefully more of that will be on show this evening. Hugo Campagnaro is being deployed at left-back in order to provide some more solidity as Di Maria's defending won't be the best.
The teams have made their way out onto the pitch and we are now awaiting the national anthems. This is certainly going to be a fascinating battle between two of the world's best forwards.
The last time Sweden hosted South American opposition the game ended in defeat as Brazil left the Scandinavian nation with a 3-0 win under their belts. Erik Hamren will be eager to avoid a similar result tonight, but with Angel Di Maria, Gonzalo Higuain, Sergio Aguero and Lionel Messi all starting, you get the feeling that could be a little bit tricky.
Argentina (4-3-3): Romero; Zabaleta, Fernandez, Garay, Campagnaro; Mascherano, Gago, Di Maria; Higuain, Messi, Aguero.
Sweden (4-2-3-1): Isaksson; Lustig, Granqvist, J. Olsson, M. Olsson; Svensson, Kallstrom; Larsson, Ibrahimovic, Kacanikilic; Hysen.
The teams are in so without further delay, here they are...
This may be a friendly, but both sides will be eager to pick up a win to maintain some positive momentum going into the next set of World Cup qualifiers. Will Messi secure Argentina an impressive away win or will Ibrahimovic rally the home fans for a memorable night in Stockholm? Let me know your thoughts and predictions on Twitter @thwebber.
Two stars of world football go head to head tonight as Zlatan Ibrahimovic's Sweden host an Argentina team, spearheaded by Lionel Messi, to the Friends Arena in Solna. My name is Tom Webber and I have been gifted the privilege of guiding you fine Goal.com readers through the action tonight.
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