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Argentina set new Olympic football record

Latest update : 2008-08-18

After winning their final Group A football match against Serbia, Argentina hold a new Olympic record with nine straight wins, having swept through the Athens 2004 Games unbeaten. Argentina will now meeet Holland in the quarter-finals.

 

Defending champions Argentina benched their stars and were still too good for Serbia, winning their final Group A men's Olympic football match 2-0 to cruise into the quarter-finals unbeaten.

The win, which set them up for a quarter-final date with the Netherlands, lifted Argentina to an Olympic record of nine consecutive victories after they went through unbeaten in Athens four years ago.

Even with Lionel Messi, Sergio Aguero and Lautaro Acosta on the bench, Argentina were too good although they lacked the finesse to finish off a multitude of chances they created especially through the work of the Ezequiel Lavezzi.

The decision to keep Messi in reserve did not prove popular with the football obsessed Chinese, but Argentina coach Sergio Batista said he had to put the gold medal target first.

"We hope that the Chinese audience will understand that Argentina came here to bring the trophy home," he said.

"We must put the benefit of the team first. I can't keep all my famous players on the pitch all the time."

Even when Acosta came on for the final 15 minutes to rest the hardworking Lavezzi the problems continued with the Sevilla star himself missing from close range.

Neither of the Argentinian goals came from open play despite the opportunities they had.

Lavezzi scored first from a penalty in the 12th minute when Angel de Maria was tripped and Argentina had to wait more than an hour before they struck again.

A Diego Buonanotte free kick went over the wall and curled past a diving Serbian goalkeeper Vladimir Stojkovic into the right hand corner of the net.

It was a busy night for Stojkovic who capped a stoic performance by saving a penalty from de Maria late in the game.

With midfielder Zoran Tosic directing play, Serbia also had their chances even with Miljan Mrdakovic as their only specialist striker on the field.

In the first half Slobodan Rajkovic fired over the bar with only the goalkeeper to beat, and Tosic was also guilty of finding himself in open space and firing a shot straight at goalkeeper Sergio Romero.

Serbia, who started with game with a mathematical chance of qualifying had they pulled off a shock win against the tournament favourites, instead go home with only a solitary draw against Australia to show for their Games appearance.

Date created : 2008-08-13

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