Messi shackled but Argentina still whip T&T

BUENOS AIRES, Argentina, CMC – Trinidad and Tobago kept Barcelona star Lionel Messi goalless but failed to pull off the upset they hoped for, as they plunged to a 3-0 defeat to World Cup-bound Argentina here Wednesday night.The Caribbean side fell behind on the stroke of half-time to a goal from Rodrigo Palacio before Barcelona midfielder Javier Mascherano doubled the lead six minutes after the resumption.

Former Liverpool and Athletic Madrid forward Maxi Rodríguez grabbed the third goal in the 64th minute, to complete an easy outing for the Argentines.

T&T were led by Cardiff City’s Kenwyne Jones and included Belgium-based midfielder Khaleem Highland, but neither had an impact on the game.

“Tonight we did not possess the ball well, we didn’t pass the ball well and Argentina forced us to play [at their speed],” T&T coach Stephen Hart lamented afterward.

“They forced us into a lot of errors. Quite frankly, the ball was with our opponents tonight and we were very sloppy in possession.”

He added: “It is important for us as a nation and our footballers at all levels … to play teams of this quality because they force you to concentrate for the full game and the intensity at which they do things creates a faster playing environment and we just couldn’t play at that speed.”

Playing at the River Plate Stadium against one of the World Cup favourites, T&T did well to keep the hosts off the scoresheet for virtually the first half.

However, their resistance was finally broken in half-time stoppage when goalkeeper Jan-Michael Williams failed to hold on to Palacio’s firm header, following Angel di Maria left-sided corner kick.

Following the break, T&T fell further behind. Messi rattled the right post with a free kick only for Mascherano to pounce on the rebound and poke home from close range.

Mascherano was also involved in the third goal, firing a long pass out of the back for Palacio to play in Rodriguez, who finished clinically.

Argentina were without three of their top stars, Manchester City’s Pablo Zabaleta and Sergio Aguero, and Napoli’s Gonzalo Higuain, who are all battling fitness issues.

T&T will travel to Sao Paolo where they face another World Cup-bound side, Iran, on Sunday.

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