Argentina ease past Trinidad and Tobago to continue World Cup preparations
Last Updated: 05/06/14 7:56am
Javier Mascherano, Ezequiel Lavezzi & Angel di Maria: Argentine trio celebrate
Argentina stepped up their World Cup preparation with a 3-0 home win against Trinidad and Tobago at the Estadio Monumental in Buenos Aires.
The visitors kept Lionel Messi off the scoresheet but could not resist the Barcelona player's international team-mates as goals from Rodrigo Palacio, Javier Mascherano and Maxi Rodriguez secured a comfortable victory.
In Argentina's first designated World Cup warm-up fixture, it took Alejandro Sabella's team a good while to break through, but once Palacio netted the opening goal in first-half stoppage time there was little doubting the way the game would go.
There was a hint of fortune about Palacio's goal, which came from a corner swept over from the left by Angel di Maria.
Palacio's near-post header was firm, but more or less straight at goalkeeper Jan-Michael Williams. Yet Williams could not cling to the ball and he was left to despairingly watch it drop over the line.
Messi almost found the target in the 50th minute when, from a free-kick, he curled the ball over the Trinidad and Tobago wall and against the inside of the right post.
Mascherano was perhaps the surprise figure sweeping up the loose ball, which bounced across the goal mouth for the midfielder to stick his left boot to and direct into the empty net. Williams was powerless to prevent him making it 2-0 to Argentina.
Argentina broke out of defence at pace for the third goal in the 64th minute as Mascherano's long pass put Inter Milan's Palacio behind the Trinidad and Tobago backline.
He nudged the ball beyond Williams but still had plenty of work to do, even just to keep the ball in play.
He stopped it crossing the dead-ball line before cutting back to Rodriguez who placed an assured shot into the net from 10 yards.
Argentina were without established stars including Pablo Zabaleta, Ezequiel Garay, Sergio Aguero and Gonzalo Higuain, who are building up their fitness for the tilt at glory in Brazil.
Sabella's side face a final warm-up game against Slovenia on Saturday.
Messi told television station TyC Sports: "The important point is that we finished the match with no injured players.
"We are calm, happy with the squad we have. We'll try to play good football in the World Cup, win the next friendly and focus on the tournament then."