Argentina demolish South Korea 4-1
Argentina played like potential world champions as they demolished South Korea 4-1 with an outstanding all-round display highlighted by a hat-trick from Gonzalo Higuain at Soccer City on Thursday.
The victory, following their impressive opening 1-0 win over Nigeria on Saturday, virtually guaranteed their place in the second round as they tightened their grip at the top of Group B.
Image: Gonzalo Higuain
Chu-young gives Argentina lead
Argentina's opening goal after 17 minutes was lucky as the ball bounced off Park Chu-young's shin like a bullet and into his own net giving goalkeeper Jung Sung-ryong no chance of saving.
Image: South Korea's Park Chu-young scores an own goal
Higuain doubles Argentina's lead
Argentina doubled their lead when Higuain eluded the defence to pick his spot with a header 16 minutes later.
Argentina's display, choreographed by their increasingly theatrical coach, was well worth the entrance fee and is a show no-one should miss in the weeks ahead.
Image: Gonzalo Higuain scores the second goal for Argentina
'Korea were never able to control the match'
The only serious mistake for Argentina came just before halftime when defender Martin Demichelis, who otherwise had a fine game, failed to control a simple ball from which Korea scored.
After going 2-0 behind inside 33 minutes, Korea came back into the game with the last kick of the first half when Lee Chung-yong capitalised on Demichelis's mistake to make it 2-1.
Maradona was philosophical about the error, saying: "It can happen to anybody and didn't effect us in any way. On the contrary, this made us stronger. Apart from that mistake Korea were never able to have possession or control the match."
Image: South Korea's Lee Chung-yong shoots to score a goal past Argentina goalkeeper Sergio Romero
Higuain completes his hat-trick
After Lee made it 2-1, Argentina were forced to dig deep to keep their noses in front and their reward duly came after 76 minutes when Higuain made it 3-1 with a tap-in.
It came after a brilliant run from Messi ended with his shot hitting the post and bouncing back to Higuain who poked it into an empty net from a metre out.
He completed his hat-trick with another header four minutes later -- the first by an Argentine player in the World Cup since Gabriel Batistuta scored a treble against Jamaica in 1998.
Image: Gonzalo Higuain heads in the ball to complete his hat-trick
'We will continue to play in our style'
Interestingly, Higuain, born in that northwestern corner of Brittany, was eligible to play for France and their coach Raymond Domenech showed an interest.
However, his father and brothers -- including Argentina-based first division forward Federico -- helped him confirm to himself that he felt Argentine and wanted to play in the light blue and white stripes.
"It makes me happy to win and to do something for the team," the modest Higuain told reporters. "We deserved to win and we will continue to play in our style."
Image: Gonzalo Higuain celebrates with his team-mates
'I have 23 top players and they are all ready'
Argentina led a South American charge that makes them by far the most successful region in the tournament so far, with five wins and two draws from seven matches.
World Player of the Year Lionel Messi and his attacking midfield sidekick Carlos Tevez were again inspirational.
"Korea were never capable of controlling us," said Argentina coach Diego Maradona. "Of course, they scored but they were never able to dominate any part of the match.
"I have 23 top players and they are all ready to put on the jersey and work on the pitch and that makes you happy and then you have peace of mind," he added.
Argentina, seeking a third title after triumphs in 1978 and 1986, could take heart from the performance of substitute Nicolas Burdisso who was outstanding in defence after replacing the injured Walter Samuel in the first half.
Image: Argentina's coach Diego Maradona celebrates