Argentina Wins Second Match at World Cup; Greece, Mexico Get Victories

Argentina beat South Korea 4-1 yesterday to maintain its perfect start at this year’s soccer World Cup, as Greece and Mexico picked up their first wins.

Gonzalo Higuain scored three goals as Argentina moved atop Group B with six points after its second straight win in South Africa. Greece beat 10-man Nigeria 2-1 for its first-ever World Cup victory and Mexico defeated France 2-0.

“Korea was never capable of controlling us,” Argentina coach Diego Maradona told reporters in Johannesburg. “Of course they scored, but Korea never dominated any part of the match.”

Argentina took the lead when a free kick bounced off Park Chu Young’s shin into his own goal. Higuain made it 2-0 when he headed a cross over diving goalkeeper Jung Sung Ryong.

South Korea got a goal back just before halftime when Argentina defender Martin Demichelis failed to control the ball on the edge of the penalty box and Lee Chung Young put a shot past goalkeeper Sergio Romero.

Yeom Ki Hun had a chance to tie after 55 minutes but shot into the side-netting, a miss that South Korea coach Huh Jung Moo said was the “turning point.” Higuain then scored in the 76th and 80th minutes to complete his hat trick and seal the victory.

Today’s matches start with Germany taking on Serbia in Group D, followed by Group C matches between Slovenia and the U.S., and England and Algeria.

Yesterday in Polokwane, Mexico’s Javier Hernandez and Cuauhtemoc Blanco scored in the second half. Mexico and Uruguay have four points and face each other in the final game of Group A on June 22. A tie would send both through to the round of 16.

Final Games

France and host South Africa have one point and meet in their final game. Both need to win and have Mexico and Uruguay not tie in order to have a chance of advancing.

Mexico took the lead when Hernandez beat a France offside trap, went around goalkeeper Hugo Lloris and slid the ball into the empty goal. Blanco made it 2-0 with his penalty after Eric Abidal took down Pablo Barrera.

In Bloemfontein, Greece scored twice after Nigeria’s Sani Kaita received a red card to gain its first World Cup win in five games.

“I wish we’d showed a lot more character and attitude to try and get at least a draw,” Nigeria captain Joseph Yobo said in a televised interview. “It looks like that even if we win the next one, we’re not going to qualify, so practically we are out of the tournament.”

Dimitrios Salpingidis and Vasileios Torosidis had the goals for Greece, which had not scored in losing its four previous World Cup games. Greece ties South Korea for second in Group B with three points, with Nigeria last after losing both of its games.

‘Good Moment’

“We deserved to win because we worked really hard,” Greece’s Georgios Samaras said on the World Cup website. “This is a good moment for us.”

Nigeria’s Kalu Uche scored with a free kick in the 15th minute that passed players from both teams before bouncing by goalkeeper Alexandros Tzorvas.

Kaita was then shown a red card 18 minutes later for kicking out at Torosidis during a stoppage in play. Salpingidis tied the game a minute before halftime with a shot from about 20 yards that deflected off Lukman Haruna.

Torosidis put Greece ahead in the 71st minute when he tapped in after goalkeeper Vincent Enyeama was unable to hold Alexandros Tziolis’s shot.

Argentina plays Greece and Nigeria meets South Korea in the final Group B games on June 22. The top two teams advance to the round of 16.

To contact the reporter on this story: Bob Bensch in London at bbensch@bloomberg.net; Alex Duff in Madrid at aduff4@bloomberg.net

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