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  • 2 September 2011
  • • 19:00
  • • Yuba Bharati Krirangan (Salt Lake Stadium), Kalkātā (Kolkata), West Bengal
  • Referee: A. Rowan

Venezuela 0-1 Argentina: Nicolas Otamendi Header Secures Victory For La Albiceleste

The two South American teams offered a great spectacle in a fiery friendly in India, but the Gauchos ultimately proved to be too much for Cesar Farias' men

Alejandro Sabella's Argentina career got off to a positive start as la Albiceleste achieve a 0-1 win against Venezuela in a friendly match played in Kolkata. Messi & co. created plenty of chances, but could only secure a minimal victory, courtesy of a second-half header by Porto centre-half Nicolas Otamendi.

Argentina were the more active team in the early minutes and created their first real chance just nine minutes into the match, when Lionel Messi released Angel Di Maria on the left side of the box, but Roberto Rosales dispossessed the Real Madrid man with a well-timed sliding tackle.

Moments later Venezuela threatened to score as Miku crossed from the right wing for Salomon Rondon into the penalty area, but the Malaga striker failed to connect properly with the ball and the chance went begging.

Argentina replied shortly after through Di Maria, who put a rather disappointing finish to a promising attack by Alejandro Sabella's men as he blasted a finish wide of the left post from inside the box, following a pass by Messi.

La Albiceleste continued to press, but were lacking incisiveness and were struggling to penetrate Venezuela's defence. Cesar Farias' men, on the other hand, were actively looking to score on the break, and nearly did so moments before half-time, when Argentina's rearguard had to act quickly to deny Nicolas Fedor and Rondon.

Venezuela started the second period very brightly an almost opened the scoring through Cesar Gonzalez, who narrowly missed the target with a powerful finish shortly after the restart.

The best chance of the game came on the hour mark as Gonzalez was released by Rosales, but Sergio Romero dropped superbly to his left to deny the Deportivo Táchira midfielder.

Half the ground thought la Albiceleste took the lead a minute later when Messi curled a free-kick for the top-right corner, but the finish only hit the side-netting, creating the illusion that ball actually flew in.

Shortly after Gonzalo Higuain hit the bar with a delicate lob as Argentina were tightening the grip. The opener finally came in the in the 67th minute when Porto defender Otamendi headed in from a corner on the left by Messi to give la Albiceleste the lead.

The introduction of Javier Pastore and Sergio Aguero inserted much needed dynamism in the Gauchos' attack. Alejando Sabella's men nearly double their lead in the 80th minute when Messi had a volley from the edge of the box saved by Rafael Romo.

Argentina continued to attack in the remaining time, but were ultimately unable to score a second goal.

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