Higuain hat-trick seals Argentina`s 4-1 win over South Korea

Last Updated: Jun 18, 2010, 10:18 AM IST

Johannesburg: Gonzalo Higuain struck the
first hat-trick of the FIFA World Cup as Argentina spanked
South Korea 4-1 in a Group B match to seal a berth in the
knock-out round here on Thursday.

Two-time champions Argentina produced another dominating
performance after their 1-0 victory over Nigeria in their
campaign opener to book a place in the round of 16 though
Lionel Messi was still in search of his first goal in the mega
event.

Real Madrid striker Higuain struck in the 33rd, 76th and
80th minutes after South Korean Park Chu-Young gave the
South Americans the lead with an own goal in the 17th minute.

Lee Chung-Yong took advantage of a mistake in the
Argentine defence to score for South Korea in the one minute
added time in the first half.

With the win, Argentina topped Group B with two wins
while South Korea will have to beat Nigeria in their last
group match on June 26 in Durban if they have to qualify for
the knockout phase.

Argentina made one change from their squad which beat
Nigeria 1-0 by drafting in Liverpool midfielder Maxi Rodrigues
in place of Juan Sebastian Veron and they dictated terms on
the South Koreans with overwhelming ball possession.

Diego Maradona`s boys kept the ball in the South Korean
half for most part of the match with strikers Carlos Tevez and
Higuain, and Messi playing behind the duo creating havoc at
the South Korean defence time and again.

To the credit of the `Taegeuk Warriors` under former
World Cupper Huh Jung-moo, they did not concede too many
openings to the `La Albiceleste` in the first 45 minutes at
the packed Soccer City Stadium.

Argentina made most of their attacks from the left side
with Tevez and Da Maria combining in tandem and Messi making
his usual mesmerising runs cutting through the South Korean
box.

The wave of attacks from the technically far superior
Argentines proved too much for the South Koreans who began the
match with a defensive formation and Park Chu-Young gave the
South Americans the lead with an own goal in the 17th minute.

A Messi free-kick 30 metre from the goal on the left side
of the box flew over a leaping Argentine defender Demichelis
before the ball deflected into the net off the right leg of
Chu-Young.

Argentina extended the lead when Maxi Rodriguez`s cross
was flicked on by Nicolas Burdisso, who substituted Walter
Samuel in the 23rd minute, for Higuan to beat South Korean
goalkeeper Jung Sung-Ryong in the 33rd minute.

But Lee pounced on a mistake by centre-back Martin
Demichelis to fire home a minute into extra time.

Down 1-2 at the breather, South Korea dished out an
improved performance in the second half and they could have
restored parity in the 64th minute but Kihun`s left-footer
went wide with only Argentine goalkeeper to beat after he was
nicely set up by his captain Park Ji Sung.

The occasional attacks from the South Koreans
notwithstanding, the Argentines took the game out of their
reach with Higuain scoring twice in a space of four minutes.

Messi, the World Footballer of the Year, cut through the
South Korean box after getting the better of two defender
before his left-footer hit the left upright and a lurking
Higuan had all the time in the world to slam the ball home and
round off the tally.

PTI

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