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November 15, 2012
• King Fahd International Stadium, Ar-Riyāḍ (Riyadh)
Referee: Ali Abdulnabi
Alejandro Sabella will be hoping for a better performance when Argentina face Brazil in Buenos Aires in a week's time whilst Saudi Arabia's next international is against Iran in the West Asian Federation Championship in Kuwait on December 9. That's all from me on this stalemate between Saudi Arabia and Argentina. Good night!
Alejandro Sabella will inevitably be disappointed with the subdued performance of his side and will be wondering how his side were not awarded a penalty in the closing stages. Aguero and Messi showed glimpses of quality but it was not the typical Albiceleste display that we have become accustomed to in recent months. Credit is due to Saudi Arabia though who battled bravely and were well-organised all across the field.
FULL TIME: SAUDI ARABIA 0 - 0 ARGENTINA. The Asian side survive a late Argentine storm to claim a famous draw against the side ranked third in the world. A fantastic achievement for Frank Rijkaard's side who can now look forward to the West Asian Federation Championship in Kuwait next month.
90' + 4'
Aguero's freekick is flicked past the post by the fingertips of Abdullah. That should be it...
90' + 3'
Yellow Card Waleed Abdullah
90' + 3'
Late drama at the King Fahd International Stadium as Sergio Aguero latches onto a Javier Mascherano through ball before being brought down by Waleed Abdullah in the penalty box. The referee somehow deems that the foul was committed outside the area and brandishes a yellow card.
90' + 2'
The seconds are ticking away for Argentina to find that elusive first goal...
SO CLOSE FROM AGUERO! The Manchester City forward receives the ball on the edge of the box before curling an effort just wide of the post, with Abdullah scrambling. Heart-in-mouth moments for the home nation.
Argentina are beginning to launch crosses into the Saudi Arabia box and the outstretched leg of a green shirt nearly diverts the ball over Abdullah and into the net but it bounces fortunately wide for a corner. Can the Green Falcons survive this late storm?
Another glorious opportunity goes begging for Argentina. Messi looks to bundle his way through the Saudi Arabia defence and a defensive mix-up allows the ball to ricochet to Franco Di Santo who smashes the ball wildly over. It wasn't the easiest of angles to score from, but he should have at least tested Abdullah from there.
Augusto Fernandez gets free down the right but his lofted cross is expertly claimed by Abdullah. The 26-year-old has been in fine form today.
Sergio Aguero swivels on the edge of the box and fires an effort towards goal which is deflected behind for a corner. The Albiceleste are pushing for a late winner here.
MUCH BETTER FROM ARGENTINA! Lionel Messi plays a brilliant one-two with Sergio Aguero and surges past the challenge of one defender into the penalty area but his toe-poked shot cannot quite creep under the midriff of Abdullah and the goalkeeper foils his effort.
WHAT A CHANCE FOR DI SANTO TO SCORE ON HIS INTERNATIONAL DEBUT! Angel Di Maria clips a wonderful cross into the box to the unmarked Wigan striker who leans back and heads frustratingly over the bar. He knows he should have done better with that effort.
A Saudi Arabia player goes down clutching his face after what appears to have been an elbow from Sergio Aguero. The referee deems that the foul was accidental however and refuses to brandish a card.
This has been a very lacklustre display from Alejandro Sabella's side and they look short of ideas out their on the pitch. Credit is due to Frank Rijkaard's side though, they have been well-organised and have defended admirably.
Twenty minutes remain for Saudi Arabia to hold on to a priceless draw but it is the Asian side who look the most likely to score at the moment and Sergio Romero produces a wonderful save to prevent the home side from taking a shock lead.
Sergio Aguero appeals for a penalty when his flick appears to strike the hand of a defender, but the referee waves play on.
Yasser Al Qahtani
Great chance for Saudi Arabia when Yasser Al Qahtani is played through one-on-one on the right side of the box. However, his first touch is too heavy allowing Romero to smother the effort. The rebound falls back into the striker's path but Marcos Rojo is on hand to stop the ball on the line.
Sergio Aguero looks to slip in Lionel Messi with a cute slide pass but again it is overhit and Saudi Arabia clear their lines. Who can provide that explosive spark for the away side?
Yellow Card Pablo Zabaleta
Pablo Zabaleta receives the first caution of the game for a nasty challenge.
Yasir Al Shahrani
Approaching the hour mark in this match, both teams have attempted five shots on target but the deadlock is still to be broken.
Argentina continue to look for that lofted pass over the Saudi Arabia defence but they cannot execute it to perfection, as Messi's attempt runs too far for Franco Di Santo.
Taisser Al-Jassim produces a clever piece of skill to make some space for himself on the edge of the box but he cannot quite bend his shot into the far corner and the ball flies wide.
Both sides are struggling to fashion chances in the early stages of this second half but it is Argentina who are enjoying the lion's share of the possession. They cannot find that killer pass through the Saudi Arabia defence.
Sergio Aguero wins a freekick 25 yards out but Lionel Messi's effort curls narrowly over the crossbar.
Franco Di Santo
The second half is underway and Lionel Messi does well to control a ball over the top but cannot get his shot away.
Lionel Messi is still looking for that elusive twelfth goal of the calendar year which will bring him level with Gabriel Batistuta's record. Will he break the deadlock in the second half? Let me know your thoughts and predictions on the match via Twitter @MaxBentley1.
It's half time at the King Fahd International Stadium in Riyadh and there is nothing to separate these sides at the break. Frank Rijkaard will be the happier of the two managers, having seen his side frustrate their South American opponents and they had the ball in the net on the 29th minute through Al-Sahlawi's header which was adjudged marginally offside. Lots to think about for Alejandro Sabella at half-time as we head in at 0-0.
Javier Mascherano attempts to lift the ball over the Saudi Arabia defence for the onrushing Angel Di Maria, but the Real Madrid winger strays just offside. It has been an impressive defensive performance from Rijkaard's side so far.
Lionel Messi tricks his way to the byline and attempts to cut the ball back for Aguero but the danger is spotted by Hawsawi and the danger is cleared.
And it's Zabaleta who goes close now with a low shot on the stretch, but the keeper is equal to it and makes a comfortable save.
The Saudis earn a corner but the quickly cede the advantage when Zabaleta is fouled.
Saudi Arabia continue to cause Argentina problems and Sultan Al-Bishi drives forward from defence before sending an effort high over the bar.
This time Messi goes for the direct run through the middle, but his ball out to the left is too strong for Di Maria to latch on to.
Argentina continually look for this long ball over the top but so far it has got them nowhere.
DISALLOWED GOAL FOR SAUDI ARABIA! A freekick is swung deep into the Argentine penalty area where Mohammed Al-Sahlawi rises highest at the back post to nod across Romero and into the far corner sending the crowd into ecstacy. However, the linesman's flag is raised and the goal is ruled out for offside.
Messi shows a glimpse of his genius with a fantastic through ball which disects the Saudi Arabia defence, however Abdullah anticipates the danger and prevents Aguero from racing through clean on goal.
Saudi Arabia may have failed to qualify for the 2014 World Cup but they are playing some really good tiki-taka football here. Argentina are yet to get going in this match.
Saud Ali Khariri attempts a neat one-two with Mohammed Al-Sahlawi but the return pass is slightly overhit and the chance breaks down. This is a good attacking spell for the Asian side.
Lionel Messi sends a teasing freekick into the penalty area but Abdullah is off his line quickly to punch the ball to safety. Good decision from the Al-Shabab shotstopper.
SO NEARLY AN OPENER FOR SAUDI ARABIA! Naser Al-Shamrani latches onto a superb ball behind the Argentine defence and his shot across goal is tipped just wide by Romero.
The Saudi Arabia defence are pressing the Argentine attackers high up the pitch and Di Maria and Salvio have struggled to settle early on. Frank Rijkaard will be happy with how his side have coped so far.
The Green Falcons are yet to test Sergio Romero but Naser Al-Shamrani produces a neat piece of skill to jink past Pablo Zabaleta before he sends a shot from the edge of the box well wide of the post.
First chance of the game for Messi! The Barcelona maestro picks up the ball up on the edge of the box before bending a shot towards the far corner which forces a smart save from Abdullah.
Argentina continue to poke at the Saudi Arabia defence but they cannot find that early goal. Alberto Costa tries to play an incise through pass to Messi but the danger is expertly read and Saudi Arabia survive.
Saudi Arabia are playing an extremely high line and they nearly get caught out through Messi's ball over the defence. Aguero does excellently to break the offside trap but his touch lets him down and a great chance goes begging for the Albiceleste.
Messi looks to go on a mazy run through the Saudi Arabia defence but is prevented by an excellent challenge from Osama Hawsawi. That tackle was wildly celebrated by the home crowd.
Alberto Costa tries to break the deadlock with an effort from range but it is comfortably saved by Waleed Abdullah.
Argentina look to set into an early rhythm but they are pressed high up the pitch by the home side. Salvio attempts a lofted pass over the defence but it runs just too far for Sergio Aguero.
We are underway in Riyadh!
Now it is time for the Saudi Arabia national anthem which appears to be sung by every fan in the stadium. What an atmosphere we have here. Sections of the home crowd erupt into a chorus of "Messi!"
The teams emerge onto the field in front of an electric atmosphere at the King Fahd International Stadium. The Argentine national anthem resonates around the ground.
Saudi Arabia's last encounter with Argentina came in the 1992 Confederations Cup, with the South Americans running out 3-1 winners.
Argentina (4-4-2): Romero; Zabaleta, F. Fernández, Coloccini, Rojo; Costa, Mascherano Di María, Salvio; Aguero, Messi.
Saudi Arabia (4-4-2): Abdullah;Al-Shahrani,Hawsawi,Al-Bishi,Al-Harbi;Khariri,Al-Dosari,Otaif,Al-Jassim;Al-Shamrani,Al-Sahlawi.
Lionel Messi and Frank Rijaard are set for an emotional reunion this evening as Saudi Arabia take on Argentina at the King Fahd International Stadium in Riyadh this evening. Earlier this week, Messi spoke of his admiration for the Saudi coach who gave him his first team debut at Barcelona. The Albiceleste captain is looking to equal Gabriel Batistuta's record of 12 goals in a calendar year, set in 1998, by scoring tonight and he faces a Saudi Arabia outfit who were crushed 5-0 by Spain on their last outing. The Green Falcons occupy 112th spot in the Fifa World Rankings and face a resurgent Argentina side who have won eight of their last ten matches. Bringing you all the action from the international friendly between Saudi Arabia and Argentina, my name is Max Bentley. Feel free to let me know your thoughts and predictions on the game via Twitter @MaxBentley1.
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