Argentina Clinch Gold In Beijing

Argentina 1-0 Nigeria

Argentina have won their second consecutive gold medal in the men's football at the Olympic Games, downing Nigeria courtesy of a lone goal from Angel Di Maria...

Argentina came into the clash in Beijing as favourites to defend their title from Athens 2004 after trouncing arch-rivals Brazil in the semi-finals. However, Nigeria were confident of repeating their efforts of Atlanta 1996, when they defeated los Albicelestes to claim gold.

The game took place in blistering conditions at the Bird's Nest stadium, with the temperature hitting a peak of 42 degrees Centigrade (107 degrees Fahrenheit) throughout the encounter. But both sides battled through the heat and attempted to play the sort of attacking football that served them so well throughout the tournament.

Argentina leaped out of the blocks nicely, stringing together a few promising attacks very early on. The first real signs of danger came on three minutes, when Sergio Aguero burst into the box from the right. The Atletico Madrid forward went to ground, but the penalty shouts were waved away by the referee.

The defending champs' next chance came in the ninth minute. Di Maria was fouled on the edge of the area after a driving run, but Juan Roman Riquelme's free-kick did not test goalkeeper Ambruse Vanzekin.

Peter Odemwingie and Solomon Okoronkwo combined well to produce Nigeria's first chance of the game, the latter playing a one-two with former before blasting his effort high and wide.

Lionel Messi struggled to assert his influence throughout the first half, the Barcelona ace struggling with his final ball due to the immense physical pressure place upon him by the Nigerian defence. Regardless, the 21-year-old came close to earning a penalty when he jinked cleverly into box, but again Hungarian official Viktor Kassai let play continue.

Perhaps the best chance of the opening term was created by Odemwingie. The Lokomotiv Moscow forward burst to the byline before flashing a dangerous low ball across the face of goal, which narrowly evaded the boot of Promise Isaac. Argentina 'keeper Sergio Romero was then forced to make a stretching save when the ball ballooned goalward after being bundled back into the area.

Di Maria almost put the South Americans ahead just before the interval with a ferocious angled drive from 25 yards, but Vanzekin managed to push the shot wide of his right-hand post.

Argentina started the second half the stronger, taking just over a minute to threaten their opponents' goal. After a deep run from Liverpool midfielder Javier Mascherano, Messi played in Aguero with a delightful through-ball, but again the Nigerian shot-stopper was on hand with a timely interception.

Nigeria began pressing the play, commiting men forward in search of an opener. However, the Argentines remained dangerous on the counter-attack as holes began to appear in Samson Siasia's side.

The breakthrough came after 57 minutes. Messi was the architect, drawing his markers in midfield before releasing Di Maria with a clever ball down the inside-left channel. The Benfica winger did the rest, skipping to the edge of the box before chipping the onrushing Vanzekin to make it 1-0.

Victor Anichebe was brought on as Nigeria scrambled for an equaliser, and the Everton youngster made his presence felt immediately, almost managing to bundle past Romero on 65 minutes after a scrap in the box.

The nervy moments did not end there for Argentina. An ominous bouncing ball was only just cleared from the edge of the area in the 70th minute, while Albiceleste defender Nicolas Pareja almost headed into his own net after a dangerous ball was whipped in from the right.

Sensing danger, Argentina attempted to break up the play and kill as much time as possible - measures which earned Riquelme a yellow card 10 minutes from time. But the Super Eagles continued to create chances, with Obinna most of the problems. The Chievo striker blasted just over from 20 yards before setting up Anichebe with a brilliant run and cut-back, but Romero pulled off a sharp save to maintain his side's lead.

Nigeria continued to push deep into extra time but to no avail, as Argentina held on to claim their second gold medal in as many Olympiads.


Argentina: Romero; Zabaleta, Pareja, Garay, Monzon; Mascherano, Gago, Di Maria (Banega 88'), Riquelme; Aguero (Sosa 79'), Messi (Lavezzi 90')

Nigeria: Vanzekin; Okonkwo, Adeleye, Apam, Olubayo; Ajilore, Kaita, Promise (Ekpo 70'), Obinna; Odemwingie, Okoronkwo (Anichebe 64')

Angel Di Maria chipped in the goal over the Nigerian keeper in the 57th minute.

58′ [0 - 1] Angel Di Maria

First-half highlights

58′ [0 - 1] Angel Di Maria

Photos of Angel Di Maria in Nigeria 0-1 Argentina Final, 2008 Beijing Olympics, Your thoughts on his performance in the final?

Angel Di Maria. I follow the Portuguese League and some Benfica fans are crazy about him before the Olympics started, I was curious to see how he did.

He started the first game as a substitute. Finished as one of the starting 11. Judging by the final, he took Ezequiel Lavezzi's place on the left side.

He was the best player in the first half. Unmarking himself, having some great runs down the middle, on the left side. Since Messi and El Kun were marked with two or three men, the final pass wouldn't always work. you had the impression he was the only one running. Except for Pablo Zabaleta as a right-back.

Gracias Angel Di Maria! Your goal got us the gold medal. Here are some pictures of Angel di Maria in Nigeria 0-1 Argentina, final, men's soccer 2008 BEijing Olympics.
August 23, 2008- Nigeria goalkeeper and Di Maria after he scored, celebrating. See the Argentina fans.

He would have played all 90 minutes I assume. When he laid down for what looked like heat exhaustion, he had to be replaced.
Argentina Clinch Gold In Beijing Reviewed by admin Ucop on 5:19 PM Rating: 5

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