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Mexico vs. Argentina 2010: At World Cup, Carlos Tevez scores twice as Argentina wins, 3-1

Mexico's players protest Carlos Tevez's first goal. "Everybody is human on the pitch," Mexico Coach Javier Aguirre of a linesman failing to call Tevez offside.
Mexico's players protest Carlos Tevez's first goal. "Everybody is human on the pitch," Mexico Coach Javier Aguirre of a linesman failing to call Tevez offside. (Matt Dunham/associated Press)

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Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, June 28, 2010

JOHANNESBURG -- Argentina scored twice in the first 33 minutes -- one a goal that should never have been allowed and another that was essentially gift-wrapped -- and rolled to a 3-1 victory over Mexico Sunday at Soccer City Stadium.

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The victory sets up what promises to be a delicious quarterfinal with Germany, which trounced England, 4-1, earlier in the day in Bloemfontein, South Africa.

Argentina's Carlos Tevez was clearly offside when he struck the first of his two goals at the 26th minute. But a linesman missed the call, prompting howls of protests from Mexican players.

While the gaffe is likely to rekindle the debate about the lack of instant replay in international soccer, as well as the sport's resistance to reversing egregious calls, Sunday's outcome hardly turned on officiating.

Argentina was simply that much better, asserting itself as a serious threat to win its third World Cup despite the fact that its star, Lionel Messi, widely regarded as the world's best player, has yet to score in the tournament.

Argentina has won all four matches it has played and outscored opponents 10-2 along the way.

And its dazzling streak is doing wonders for the reputation of Argentina's famous coach, Diego Maradona -- so brilliant as a competitor in four World Cups and, for much of his 49 years, equally tormented off the pitch.

Although regarded as both hero and savior in Argentina, Maradona was eyed with skepticism when appointed coach of the national team in 2008. There were doubts about his skill as a tactician and doubts, as well, about his emotional stability given a decades-long battle with cocaine and alcohol that he insists is in his past.

Above all, skeptics questioned whether Maradona could sublimate his own ego sufficiently to enable the 23-year-old Messi to stake his claim at this World Cup as Maradona's heir.

But after yet another dominant showing by his team, Maradona lavished praise on his players -- Messi in particular, whose quickness bedevils defenders.

"Lionel Messi is like a jet plane on the pitch," Maradona said. "No matter what they would have tried -- not matter what [Mexico Coach Javier] Aguirre would have fielded -- we would have been able to overcome that resistance due to the quality of our players."

For Mexico, it was a bitter and familiar result.

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