Aguero broke the deadlock (56th minute) at the Estadio La Portada here on Tuesday when he met Pablo Zabaleta’s cross with a diving effort that beat goalkeeper Fernando Muslera at the near post. The ‘Albiceleste’ now have four points from two matches and with their next fixture against the struggling Jamaica, Gerardo Martino’s men are odds on to finish top of their group, reports Xinhua.
Argentina and Uruguay share one of football’s most storied rivalries and the competitive spirit was evident from the outset. Lionel Messi and Aguero were subject to some heavy man-marking, drawing protests from Martino on the sidelines.
A rough challenge by Uruguay’s Nicolas Lodeiro further raised the ire of the normally mild-mannered Martino and the former Barcelona manager was duly ordered to the stands by Brazilian referee Sandro Ricci.
Argentina created most of the early scoring chances with Angel di Maria shooting over from an acute angle and Aguero heading the ball straight to Muslera after a Messi cross.
Diego Godin and Diego Rolan had Uruguay’s best opportunities of the first half but they both directed headers wide of the target.
Uruguay emerged from the halftime break with renewed verve and Sergio Romero was forced to punch away a dangerous Maxi Pereira drive just after the restart.
It took until the 56th minute for Argentina to finally break Uruguay’s resistance. Paris Saint-Germain midfielder Javier Pastore began the move by nonchalantly brushing off two challenges and finding Zabaleta on the right. The full-back’s cross was low and hard but his Manchester City teammate Aguero was equal to the task, squirming past his marker and sending a lunging header into the bottom corner.
Playing deeper than he often does for Barcelona, Messi was industrious, though he struggled to present his usual scoring threat. Not for the first time in his career, the four-time Ballon d’Or winner was subjected to some tough tackling that other referees may have penalised more harshly.
Uruguay did not relent and Rolan might still be lamenting a missed chance to equalise after sending the ball flying over from eight yards after Romero kept out Pereira’s fizzing drive from distance.
Messi then had a shot saved by Muslera after being fed by substitute Carlos Tevez. But it was Uruguay who continued to pile on the pressure.
Rolan, an ever-present threat, had another goal-bound effort body-blocked by Zabaleta and Romero made a superb reflex save to deny Abel Hernandez after Pereira’s cross.
In Tuesday’s other match, Edgar Benitez’s fortuitous first-half strike gave Paraguay an unconvincing 1-0 victory over Jamaica in Antofagasta. The goal came in almost comical circumstances when goalkeeper Duwayne Kerr’s headed clearance from a Victor Caceres long ball rebounded off Benitez’s thigh and looped into an empty net.
Paraguay are now all but guaranteed a berth in the knockouts with four points from two matches. Jamaica are at the foot of the group having yet to earn a point.