HONG KONG: Argentina strolled to a 7-0 friendly win over Hong Kong on Tuesday (Oct 14), with superstar Lionel Messi and Napoli striker Gonzalo Higuain both netting a brace.
Coach Gerardo Martino started with a second-string side that saw Barcelona’s Messi, Manchester United’s Angel Di Maria and Sergio Aguero of Manchester City all on the bench.
Messi came on with half an hour of the match remaining. By then the score was already 4-0 but soon the little wizard had made it five, playing a neat one-two before dinking the ball over goalkeeper Yapp Hung-fai. He was then instrumental in Argentina’s sixth, pulling the ball back from the byline to give Nicolas Gaitan of Benfica the easiest of tap-ins from inside the six-yard box.
It was Gaitan’s second goal of the match. The first came just before half-time when he cut in from the right and smashed the ball in with his left foot. Just a minute earlier Higuain had scored his first, heading down a cross from the left. The forward got his brace and Argentina’s fourth with a simple pass into a open goal less than ten minutes into the second half.
Sevilla’s Ever Banega had opened for Argentina on 19 minutes, pouncing on some woeful Hong Kong defending. Yapp fumbled a weak effort which landed at the feet of Lee Chi-ho who scuffed a clearance straight to Banega, for the midfielder to drill the ball home.
With five minutes to go Messi scored his second and Argentina’s seventh, taking the ball down beautifully with his left foot before going past three Hong Kong defenders and rifling it low into the corner.
Other stars who didn’t start for Argentina included Sergio Romero, Pablo Zabaleta, Javier Mascherano, Martin Demichelis and Erik Lamela. Manchester City’s Zabaleta entered the fray on 60 minutes with Di Maria and Mascherano coming on ten minutes later – all three coming through the match unscathed.