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Argentina thump world champs Spain
A classy first half performance saw Argentina beat an off-colour Spain 4-1 in Estadio Monumental, Buenos Aires.

Lionel Messi sublimely chipped Pepe Reina to begin the scoring on a night when all three Argentine forwards found their way on to the score sheet.

Gonzalo Higuain rounded Reina to add the home team’s second before Tevez pounced to take advantage of a slip from the Spanish keeper to make it 3-0 after just 34 minutes.

Fernando Llorente grabbed a late consolation as he turned smartly 12 yards out to stab the ball into the bottom corner of the goal.

There was still time for another goal as Sergio Aguero rose highest head in Gabriele Heinze’s left wing cross.

Interim Argentina manager - Sergio Batista - could well find that this performance will give him the job full time. The 47 year old’s first move of the night was to welcome back the veteran Internazionale duo of Javier Zanetti and Esteban Cambiasso who were controversially left out of the World Cup by Diego Maradona.

Zanetti was immediately involved as he unpicked the Spanish offside trap to play in Tevez one on one. The Manchester City forward’s first touch let him down though as he hurriedly screwed his shot wide.

The visitor’s offside trap was again breached just four minutes later; this time Argentina took full advantage.

Messi broke with the ball from the half way line but was dispossessed on the edge of the box. Tevez controlled the loose ball and slid the ball through to Messi who took one touch to control and beat Reina with a sublime left footed chip.

The Spanish defence – who were without Sergio Ramos, Carles Puyol and Joan Capdevila – were caught square at the back once more just three minutes later. This time Higuain was the beneficiary as he rounded Reina and applied the finish to double his team’s advantage.

Reina - making a rare appearance for the World Cup holders – had his misery compounded after 34 minutes. A routine back pass was played to the keeper who looked to take a touch, but instead slipped and lost the ball. Reina and Tevez both dived for the loose ball with the Argentinean winning the race and sliding the ball into the back of the net.

At the other end, David Villa rattled the frame of the goal on two occasions in the first half. Firstly he hit a left footed drive which hit the upright and bounced behind before curling a deflected free kick which rebounded off the far post.

Vicente del Bosque made four changes at the break as he ended Reina’s miserable night and introduced a new strike partnership of Santi Cazorla and Fernando Llorente who threatened throughout the second half.

Llorente should have reduced his team’s arrears just after the break as he inexplicably nodded wide from a Jesus Navas cross.

Cazorla saw a volley tipped on to the crossbar before Llorente finished from 12 yards after a sharp turn for what turned out to be a consolation.

However, the goal could have been more than that had Martin Demichelis not cleared off the line from Cazorla just moments later.

Aguero completed the scoring as the match ticked over in the 90th minute. Maradona’s son in law rising highest to head in Heinze’s left wing cross.

The result means that Argentina have now gone unbeaten for 40 matches in Buenos Aires.
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