A first-half double from Ike Uche set the tone for a comfortable victory for the Nigerians on home turf, against a young Argentina side who turned in a woefully below-par display
Mauro Boselli in turn converted a penalty eight minutes into injury time for Argentina, given in bizarre circumstances with the game already over by far.
In truth it was a deeply disappointing performance from the South Americans, who were out-run, out-thought and out-played by their opponents for almost the entire match. The decision of coach Sergio Batista to name his Copa America squad just 18 hours before kick off must be questioned, as with the vast majority of this team left out of the tournament the Seleccion looked lacklustre and lacked motivation against the tireless Super Eagles.
After a few bright moments in the opening minutes, an inexperienced Argentina team looked hopelessly out-classed against the hosts, who time and again marauded down the flanks and ripped apart the away team. Taye Taiwo and Joel Obi in particular took pleasure in torturing full backs Pablo Zabaleta and Emiliano Insua, and the opening goal did not take long to arrive.
Obi was not checked as he made it to the goal line on the right hand side, and Uche was on hand to hit home with a shot that took a generous deflection on its way into the net. The Super Eagles were ahead after just 10 minutes, and Adrian Gabbarini had to stretch to tip over a cross-shot from Victor Anichebe to avoid the scoreline being doubled.
The second goal was on its way, however, albeit in controversial circumstances. Federico Fazio did not appear to do much wrong in the area as he stopped a Nigerian attacker in his tracks after 27 minutes; but referee Ibrahim Chaibou disagreed, and a penalty was given which Obinna had no problem converting.
Just 40 minutes in the Albiceleste found themselves staring at a humiliating thrashing, when pitiful defending allowed Uche to convert Taiwo's cross for the third. The South Americans trudged off the field at half-time, while Nigeria showed their confidence when Anichebe was withdrawn even before the break in a statement of their total dominance on the pitch.
Seconds after the break it appeared that Nigeria would add a fourth, as a counter attack left Emanuel Emenike one on one with Gabbarini only to be denied by the Independiente No. 1. Argentina's best chance of the match thus far then arrived; a stinging free kick from Bolatti took a deflection on the way through but pinged back off Austin Ejide's right-hand post.
The attempt proved to be just a slight blip in the trajectory of the game, as a fourth hit the back of the net for the Africans minutes later. With the defence nowhere to be seen Emenike was once again left facing the keeper, and this time made no mistake as he lifted the ball over the stranded keeper to twist the knife further into Sergio Batista's charges.
Both sides rung the changes with the result long-assured for the home team, and the final 35 minutes of the fixture passed with little to encourage Argentina fans happening out on the pitch. The final minutes, however, passed in bizarre circumstances. The referee gave a non-existent handball in favour of Argentina with no less than eight minutes stoppage time played, and Mauro Boselli sent substitute keeper Ejide the wrong way to give his side a consolation hardly worthy of the word.
With just two players - Ezequiel Garay and Zabaleta - included in the Copa America squad named yesterday there is little reason to draw conclusions on the Albiceleste's chances from this painful beating. But the young guns hoping to become first-teamers of the future were handed a lesson in international football from their more experienced, more physical and savvy rivals on Wednesday evening.